Coronary Artery Disease Risk-Associated Plpp3 Gene and Its Product Lipid Phosphate Phosphatase 3 Regulate Experimental Atherosclerosis

Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2019 Nov;39(11):2261-2272. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.119.313056. Epub 2019 Sep 19.


Objective: Genome-wide association studies identified novel loci in PLPP3(phospholipid phosphatase 3) that associate with coronary artery disease risk independently of traditional risk factors. PLPP3 encodes LPP3 (lipid phosphate phosphatase 3), a cell-surface enzyme that can regulate the availability of bioactive lysophopsholipids including lysophosphatidic acid (LPA). The protective allele of PLPP3 increases LPP3 expression during cell exposure to oxidized lipids, however, the role of LPP3 in atherosclerosis remains unclear. Approach and Results: In this study, we sought to validate LPP3 as a determinate of the development of atherosclerosis. In experimental models of atherosclerosis, LPP3 is upregulated and co-localizes with endothelial, smooth muscle cell, and CD68-positive cell markers. Global post-natal reductions in Plpp3 expression in mice substantially increase atherosclerosis, plaque-associated LPA, and inflammation. Although LPP3 expression increases during ox-LDL (oxidized low-density lipoprotein)-induced phenotypic modulation of bone marrow-derived macrophages, myeloid Plpp3 does not appear to regulate lesion formation. Rather, smooth muscle cell LPP3 expression is a critical regulator of atherosclerosis and LPA content in lesions. Moreover, mice with inherited deficiency in LPA receptor signaling are protected from experimental atherosclerosis.

Conclusions: Our results identify a novel lipid signaling pathway that regulates inflammation in the context of atherosclerosis and is not related to traditional risk factors. Pharmacological targeting of bioactive LPP3 substrates, including LPA, may offer an orthogonal approach to lipid-lowering drugs for mitigation of coronary artery disease risk.

Keywords: atherosclerosis; coronary artery disease; lipid phosphate phosphatase; lysophosphatidic acid; lysophospholipids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Coronary Artery Disease / enzymology*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / genetics*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / enzymology
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / enzymology
  • Phosphatidate Phosphatase / genetics*
  • Phosphatidate Phosphatase / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • PLPP3 protein, human
  • Phosphatidate Phosphatase
  • Plpp3 protein, mouse