Background: Depending on their anatomical location, different fat depots have a different capacity to produce bioactive peptides, called adipokines. Adipokines produced by periadventitial fat have been implicated in the pathogenesis of vascular disease, including atherosclerosis. Chemerin is an adipokine with an established role in immunity, adipose tissue function and metabolism, acting in autocrine, paracrine and endocrine manners. We investigated the protein expression of chemerin and its receptor, CMKLR1, in human aortas, coronary vessels and the respective periadventitial adipose tissue and correlated their expression with the presence of atherosclerosis.
Methods: Immunohistochemistry for chemerin and CMKLR1 was performed on human aortic and coronary artery samples including the periadventitial adipose tissue. Aortic and coronary atherosclerotic lesions were assessed using the AHA classification.
Results: Chemerin immunopositivity was noticed in both periadventitial fat depots, in vascular smooth muscle cells and foam cells in atherosclerotic lesions. Periadventitial fat and foam cell chemerin immunopositivity was statistically significantly correlated with the severity of atherosclerosis in both locations. CMKLR1 was expressed in vascular smooth muscle cells and foam cells in aortic and coronary vessels with atherosclerotic lesions. CMKLR1 immunostaining in foam cells was statistically significantly correlated with aortic atherosclerosis.
Conclusions: Our results lend some support to a presumable role of locally produced chemerin in the progression of atherosclerotic lesions, possibly acting through its CMKLR1 receptor. Further research will elucidate the role of chemerin signaling in atherosclerosis.