Exercise-induced endothelial Mecp2 lactylation suppresses atherosclerosis via the Ereg/MAPK signalling pathway

Atherosclerosis. 2023 Jun:375:45-58. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2023.05.009. Epub 2023 May 11.


Background and aims: Lactylation, a recently identified post-translational modification (PTM), plays a central role in the regulation of multiple physiological and pathological processes. Exercise is known to provide protection against cardiovascular disease. However, whether exercise-generated lactate changes lactylation and is involved in the exercise-induced attenuation of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects and mechanisms of exercise-induced lactylation on ASCVD.

Methods and results: Using the high-fat diet-induced apolipoprotein-deficient mouse model of ASCVD, we found that exercise training promoted Mecp2 lysine lactylation (Mecp2k271la); it also decreased the expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (Vcam-1), intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (Icam-1), monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (Mcp-1), interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, and increased the level of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (Enos) in the aortic tissue of mice. To explore the underlying mechanisms, mouse aortic endothelial cells (MAECs) were subjected to RNA-sequencing and CHIP-qPCR, which confirmed that Mecp2k271la repressed the expression of epiregulin (Ereg) by binding to its chromatin, demonstrating Ereg as a key downstream molecule for Mecp2k271la. Furthermore, Ereg altered the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signalling pathway through regulating the phosphorylation level of epidermal growth factor receptor, thereby affecting the expression of Vcam-1, Icam-1, Mcp-1, IL-1β, IL-6, and Enos in ECs, which in turn promoted the regression of atherosclerosis. In addition, increasing the level of Mecp2k271la by exogenous lactate administration in vivo also inhibits the expression of Ereg and the MAPK activity in ECs, resulting in repressed atherosclerotic progression.

Conclusions: In summary, this study provides a mechanistic link between exercise and lactylation modification, offering new insight into the anti-atherosclerotic effects of exercise-induced PTM.

Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Exercise; Lactylation; Mecp2; Post-translational modification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis* / genetics
  • Atherosclerosis* / metabolism
  • Atherosclerosis* / prevention & control
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epiregulin / metabolism
  • Epiregulin / pharmacology
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2 / genetics
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2 / metabolism
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2 / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / pharmacology
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism


  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Interleukin-6
  • Epiregulin
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Mecp2 protein, mouse
  • Methyl-CpG-Binding Protein 2