OxLDL-mediated immunologic memory in endothelial cells

J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2020 Sep;146:121-132. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2020.07.006. Epub 2020 Jul 26.


Trained innate immunity describes the metabolic reprogramming and long-term proinflammatory activation of innate immune cells in response to different pathogen or damage associated molecular patterns, such as oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL). Here, we have investigated whether the regulatory networks of trained innate immunity also control endothelial cell activation following oxLDL treatment. Human aortic endothelial cells (HAECs) were primed with oxLDL for 24 h. After a resting time of 4 days, cells were restimulated with the TLR2-agonist PAM3cys4. OxLDL priming induced a proinflammatory memory with increased production of inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6, IL-8 and MCP-1 in response to PAM3cys4 restimulation. This memory formation was dependent on TLR2 activation. Furthermore, oxLDL priming of HAECs caused characteristic metabolic and epigenetic reprogramming, including activation of mTOR-HIF1α-signaling with increases in glucose consumption and lactate production, as well as epigenetic modifications in inflammatory gene promoters. Inhibition of mTOR-HIF1α-signaling or histone methyltransferases blocked the observed phenotype. Furthermore, primed HAECs showed epigenetic activation of ICAM-1 and increased ICAM-1 expression in a HIF1α-dependent manner. Accordingly, live cell imaging revealed increased monocyte adhesion and transmigration following oxLDL priming. In summary, we demonstrate that oxLDL-mediated endothelial cell activation represents an immunologic event, which triggers metabolic and epigenetic reprogramming. Molecular mechanisms regulating trained innate immunity in innate immune cells also regulate this sustained proinflammatory phenotype in HAECs with enhanced atheroprone cell functions. Further research is necessary to elucidate the detailed metabolic regulation and the functional relevance for atherosclerosis formation in vivo.

Keywords: Endothelial cells; HIF1α; ICAM-1; Inflammation; TLR2; Trained innate immunity; oxLDL.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aorta / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / drug effects
  • Immunologic Memory / drug effects*
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / pharmacology*
  • Monocytes / drug effects
  • Phenotype
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Toll-Like Receptor 2 / metabolism


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Toll-Like Receptor 2
  • oxidized low density lipoprotein