Depletion of B2 but not B1a B cells in BAFF receptor-deficient ApoE mice attenuates atherosclerosis by potently ameliorating arterial inflammation

PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e29371. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029371. Epub 2012 Jan 4.


We have recently identified conventional B2 cells as atherogenic and B1a cells as atheroprotective in hypercholesterolemic ApoE(-/-) mice. Here, we examined the development of atherosclerosis in BAFF-R deficient ApoE(-/-) mice because B2 cells but not B1a cells are selectively depleted in BAFF-R deficient mice. We fed BAFF-R(-/-) ApoE(-/-) (BaffR.ApoE DKO) and BAFF-R(+/+)ApoE(-/-) (ApoE KO) mice a high fat diet (HFD) for 8-weeks. B2 cells were significantly reduced by 82%, 81%, 94%, 72% in blood, peritoneal fluid, spleen and peripheral lymph nodes respectively; while B1a cells and non-B lymphocytes were unaffected. Aortic atherosclerotic lesions assessed by oil red-O stained-lipid accumulation and CD68+ macrophage accumulation were decreased by 44% and 50% respectively. B cells were absent in atherosclerotic lesions of BaffR.ApoE DKO mice as were IgG1 and IgG2a immunoglobulins produced by B2 cells, despite low but measurable numbers of B2 cells and IgG1 and IgG2a immunoglobulin concentrations in plasma. Plasma IgM and IgM deposits in atherosclerotic lesions were also reduced. BAFF-R deficiency in ApoE(-/-) mice was also associated with a reduced expression of VCAM-1 and fewer macrophages, dendritic cells, CD4+ and CD8+ T cell infiltrates and PCNA+ cells in lesions. The expression of proinflammatory cytokines, TNF-α, IL1-β and proinflammatory chemokine MCP-1 was also reduced. Body weight and plasma cholesterols were unaffected in BaffR.ApoE DKO mice. Our data indicate that B2 cells are important contributors to the development of atherosclerosis and that targeting the BAFF-R to specifically reduce atherogenic B2 cell numbers while preserving atheroprotective B1a cell numbers may be a potential therapeutic strategy to reduce atherosclerosis by potently reducing arterial inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apolipoproteins E / genetics*
  • Apolipoproteins E / physiology
  • Arteries / cytology
  • Arteries / metabolism
  • Arteries / pathology
  • Arteritis / complications
  • Arteritis / genetics
  • Arteritis / pathology
  • Arteritis / prevention & control*
  • Atherosclerosis / complications
  • Atherosclerosis / genetics
  • Atherosclerosis / metabolism
  • Atherosclerosis / pathology*
  • B-Cell Activation Factor Receptor / genetics
  • B-Cell Activation Factor Receptor / physiology
  • Chemokine CCL2 / genetics
  • Chemokine CCL2 / metabolism
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Cytoprotection / genetics*
  • Down-Regulation / physiology
  • Endothelial Cells / classification
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology
  • Endothelial Cells / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout


  • Apolipoproteins E
  • B-Cell Activation Factor Receptor
  • Ccl2 protein, mouse
  • Chemokine CCL2
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Tnfrsf13c protein, mouse