Diverse B cell responses and functions may be involved in atherosclerosis. Protective antibody responses, such as those against oxidized lipid epitopes, are thought to mainly derive from T cell-independent innate B cell subsets. In contrast, both pathogenic and protective roles have been associated with T cell-dependent antibodies, and their importance in both humans and mouse models is still unclear.Objective:
To specifically target antibody production by plasma cells and determine the impact on atherosclerotic plaque development in mice with and without CD4+ T cells.Methods and Results:
We combined a model of specific antibody deficiency, B cell-specific CD79a-Cre x XBP1 (X-box binding protein-1) floxed mice (XBP1-conditional knockout), with antibody-mediated depletion of CD4+ T cells. Ldlr knockout mice transplanted with XBP1-conditional knockout (or wild-type control littermate) bone marrow were fed western diet for 8 weeks with or without anti-CD4 depletion. All groups had similar levels of serum cholesterol. In Ldlr/XBP1-conditional knockout mice, serum levels of IgG, IgE, and IgM were significantly attenuated, and local antibody deposition in atherosclerotic plaque was absent. Antibody deficiency significantly accelerated atherosclerosis at both the aortic root and aortic arch. T cell and monocyte responses were not modulated, but necrotic core size was greater, even when adjusting for plaque size, and collagen deposition significantly lower. Anti-CD4 depletion in Ldlr/wild-type mice led to a decrease of serum IgG1 and IgG2c but not IgG3, as well as decreased IgM, associated with increased atherosclerosis and necrotic cores, and a decrease in plaque collagen. The combination of antibody deficiency and anti-CD4 depletion has no additive effects on aortic root atherosclerosis.Conclusions:
The endogenous T cell-dependent humoral response can be protective. This has important implications for novel vaccine strategies for atherosclerosis and in understanding the impacts of immunotherapies used in patients at high risk for cardiovascular disease.