Essential role of ICAM-1 in aldosterone-induced atherosclerosis

Int J Cardiol. 2017 Apr 1:232:233-242. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2017.01.013. Epub 2017 Jan 5.


Objective: Elevated aldosterone is associated with increased risk of atherosclerosis complications, whereas treatment with mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) antagonists decreases the rate of cardiovascular events. Here we test the hypothesis that aldosterone promotes early atherosclerosis by modulating intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) expression and investigate the molecular mechanisms by which aldosterone regulates ICAM-1 expression.

Methods and results: Apolipoprotein-E (ApoE)-/- mice fed an atherogenic diet and treated with aldosterone for 4weeks showed increased vascular expression of ICAM-1, paralleled by enhanced atherosclerotic plaque size in the aortic root. Moreover, aldosterone treatment resulted in increased plaque lipid and inflammatory cell content, consistent with an unstable plaque phenotype. ApoE/ICAM-1 double knockout (ApoE-/-/ICAM-1-/-) littermates were protected from the aldosterone-induced increase in plaque size, lipid content and macrophage infiltration. Since aldosterone is known to regulate ICAM-1 transcription via MR in human endothelial cells, we explored MR regulation of the ICAM-1 promoter. Luciferase reporter assays performed in HUVECs using deletion constructs of the human ICAM-1 gene promoter showed that a region containing a predicted MR-responsive element (MRE) is required for MR-dependent transcriptional regulation of ICAM-1.

Conclusions: Pro-atherogenic effects of aldosterone are mediated by increased ICAM-1 expression, through transcriptional regulation by endothelial MR. These data enhance our understanding of the molecular mechanism by which MR activation promotes atherosclerosis complications.

Keywords: Aldosterone; Atherosclerosis; Endothelial cells; Intercellular adhesion molecule-1; Mineralocorticoid receptor.

MeSH terms

  • Aldosterone / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / genetics*
  • Atherosclerosis / metabolism
  • Atherosclerosis / pathology
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / pathology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Genotype
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / biosynthesis
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / drug effects
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / genetics*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • RNA / genetics*
  • Receptors, Mineralocorticoid / metabolism


  • Receptors, Mineralocorticoid
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Aldosterone
  • RNA