Cell-specific and athero-protective roles for RIPK3 in a murine model of atherosclerosis

Dis Model Mech. 2020 Jan 24;13(1):dmm041962. doi: 10.1242/dmm.041962.


Receptor-interacting protein kinase 3 (RIPK3) was recently implicated in promoting atherosclerosis progression through a proposed role in macrophage necroptosis. However, RIPK3 has been connected to numerous other cellular pathways, which raises questions about its actual role in atherosclerosis. Furthermore, RIPK3 is expressed in a multitude of cell types, suggesting that it may be physiologically relevant to more than just macrophages in atherosclerosis. In this study, Ripk3 was deleted in macrophages, endothelial cells, vascular smooth muscle cells or globally on the Apoe-/- background using Cre-lox technology. To induce atherosclerosis progression, male and female mice were fed a Western diet for three months before tissue collection and analysis. Surprisingly, necroptosis markers were nearly undetectable in atherosclerotic aortas. Furthermore, en face lesion area was increased in macrophage- and endothelial-specific deletions of Ripk3 in the descending and abdominal regions of the aorta. Analysis of bone-marrow-derived macrophages and cultured endothelial cells revealed that Ripk3 deletion promotes expression of monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1) and E-selectin in these cell types, respectively. Western blot analysis showed upregulation of MCP-1 in aortas with Ripk3-deficient macrophages. Altogether, these data suggest that RIPK3 in macrophages and endothelial cells protects against atherosclerosis through a mechanism that likely does not involve necroptosis. This protection may be due to RIPK3-mediated suppression of pro-inflammatory MCP-1 expression in macrophages and E-selectin expression in endothelial cells. These findings suggest a novel and unexpected cell-type specific and athero-protective function for RIPK3.This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.

Keywords: Endothelial cells; MCP-1; Macrophages; Mouse; Necroptosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / etiology
  • Atherosclerosis / prevention & control*
  • Chemokine CCL2 / analysis
  • Chemokine CCL2 / physiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • E-Selectin / analysis
  • Endothelial Cells / physiology
  • Interleukin-1beta / blood
  • Interleukin-1beta / physiology
  • Macrophages / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Necroptosis
  • Receptor-Interacting Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / physiology*


  • Ccl2 protein, mouse
  • Chemokine CCL2
  • E-Selectin
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Receptor-Interacting Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Ripk3 protein, mouse