Effect of Dysferlin Deficiency on Atherosclerosis and Plasma Lipoprotein Composition Under Normal and Hyperlipidemic Conditions

Front Physiol. 2021 Jul 22;12:675322. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2021.675322. eCollection 2021.


Dysferlinopathies are a group of muscle disorders caused by mutations to dysferlin, a transmembrane protein involved in membrane patching events following physical damage to skeletal myofibers. We documented dysferlin expression in vascular tissues including non-muscle endothelial cells, suggesting that blood vessels may have an endogenous repair system that helps promote vascular homeostasis. To test this hypothesis, we generated dysferlin-null mice lacking apolipoprotein E (ApoE), a common model of atherosclerosis, dyslipidemia and endothelial injury when stressed with a high fat, and cholesterol-rich diet. Despite high dysferlin expression in mouse and human atheromatous plaques, loss of dysferlin did not affect atherosclerotic burden as measured in the aortic root, arch, thoracic, and abdominal aortic regions. Interestingly, we observed that dysferlin-null mice exhibit lower plasma high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels than their WT controls at all measured stages of the disease process. Western blotting revealed abundant dysferlin expression in protein extracts from mouse livers, the main regulator of plasma lipoprotein levels. Despite abnormal lipoprotein levels, Dysf/ApoE double knockout mice responded to cholesterol absorption blockade with lower total cholesterol and blunted atherosclerosis. Our study suggests that dysferlin does not protect against atherosclerosis or participate in cholesterol absorption blockade but regulates basal plasma lipoprotein composition. Dysferlinopathic patients may be dyslipidemic without greater atherosclerotic burden while remaining responsive to cholesterol absorption blockade.

Keywords: atherosclerosis; dysferlin; endothelial function; hyperlipidemia; lipids; plaque; vascular homeostasis.