PPARα activator fenofibrate modulates angiotensin II-induced inflammatory responses in vascular smooth muscle cells via the TLR4-dependent signaling pathway

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Graphical abstractAngiotensin II (Ang II) is a crucial contributor to inflammatory processes involved in development and progression of atherosclerotic lesion. Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) signaling responsible for the initiation of inflammation also participates in pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. The protective effect of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARα) activators on atherosclerosis may be due to their impact on vascular inflammation, plaque instability and thrombosis. However, mechanisms underlying the inhibitory effects of PPARα activators on Ang II-induced vascular inflammation and the TLR4-dependent signaling pathway involved in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) remain unclear. The present study demonstrated that PPARα activator fenofibrate decreased Ang II-induced generation of pro-inflammatory mediators such as TLR4, MMP-9 and TNF-α, but enhanced production of anti-inflammatory molecules like PPARα and 6-keto-PGF both in vivo and in vitro. Meanwhile, treatment of VSMCs with the TLR4 inhibitor or TLR4 siRNA showed that the inhibitory effects of fenofibrate on Ang II-induced inflammatory responses in VSMCs were dependent on TLR4. Furthermore, fenofibrate depressed Ang II-induced inflammatory responses in VSMCs by intervening the downstream effector molecules of the TLR4-dependent signaling pathway, including interferon-gamma inducible protein 10 (IP-10), protein kinases C (PKC) and nuclear factor κB (NF-κB). Thus, these findings provide the evidence for beneficial effects of PPARα activator fenofibrate to counter-regulate vascular inflammation induced by Ang II. More importantly, anti-inflammatory action of fenofibrate via interfering with the TLR4-dependent signaling pathway (TLR4/IP-10/PKC/NF-κB) works in concert to protect against atherosclerosis.

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