Apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I) is the major functional protein fraction of high-density lipoprotein. The prophylactic effect and mechanism of human apoA-I on atherosclerosis (AS) were investigated in a high-fat diet-induced AS rabbit model. The rabbits were injected with apoA-I once a week while fed high-fat diet for 20 weeks. Our results showed that apoA-I could raise the serum level of high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol and reduce those of lipid total cholesterol, triglyceride, and low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol in AS rabbits. Decreased aortic plaque area and aortic injury degree were also observed by Oil Red O staining and HE staining in apoA-I-treated high-fat diet-induced AS rabbits. Further study elucidated that apoA-I could down-regulate the expression of some inflammatory mediators including intercellular adhesion molecule type 1, vascular adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-6 (IL-6), and C-reactive protein in serum and aorta of AS rabbits. In addition, real-time quantitative RT-PCR analyses showed that the apoA-I infusions decreased the mRNA levels of two pro-inflammatory molecules, i.e. nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), in aorta of AS rabbits, which was associated with a concomitant reduction in endothelial VCAM-1 and IL-6 mRNA transcription. Together, our results support the atheroprotective and prophylactic role of apoA-I in vivo, and this activity may be correlated with its anti-inflammatory effect.
Keywords: apolipoprotein A-I; atherosclerosis; high-density lipoprotein; high-fat diet; inflammation.
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