Background: Efferocytosis is an activity of macrophages that is pivotal for the resolution of inflammation in hypertension. The precise mechanism by which macrophages coordinate efferocytosis and internalize apoptotic cardiomyocytes remains unknown. The aim of this study was to determine whether SIRT3 (sirtuin-3) is required for both apoptotic cardiomyocyte engulfment and anti-inflammatory responses during efferocytosis.
Methods: We generated myeloid SIRT3 knockout mice and FXN (frataxin) knock-in mice carrying an acetylation-defective lysine to arginine K189R mutation (FXNK189R). The mice were given Ang II (angiotensin II) infusion for 7 days. We analyzed cardiac macrophages' mitochondrial iron levels, efferocytosis activity, and phenotype both in vivo and in vitro.
Results: We showed that SIRT3 deficiency exacerbated Ang II-induced downregulation of the efferocytosis receptor MerTK (c-Mer tyrosine kinase) and proinflammatory cytokine production, accompanied by disrupted mitochondrial iron homeostasis in cardiac macrophages. Quantitative acetylome analysis revealed that SIRT3 deacetylated FXN at lysine 189. Ang II attenuated SIRT3 activity and enhanced the acetylation level of FXNK189. Acetylated FXN further reduced the synthesis of ISCs (iron-sulfur clusters), resulting in mitochondrial iron accumulation. Phagocytic internalization of apoptotic cardiomyocytes increased myoglobin content, and derived iron ions promoted mitochondrial iron overload and lipid peroxidation. An iron chelator deferoxamine improved the levels of MerTK and efferocytosis, thereby attenuating proinflammatory macrophage activation. FXNK189R mice showed improved macrophage efferocytosis, reduced cardiac inflammation, and suppressed cardiac fibrosis.
Conclusions: The SIRT3-FXN axis has the potential to resolve cardiac inflammation by increasing macrophage efferocytosis and anti-inflammatory activities.
Keywords: c-Mer tyrosine kinase; ions; macrophages; phenotype; sirtuin 3.