A secreted phospholipase A2 induces formation of smooth muscle foam cells which transdifferentiate to macrophage-like state

Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) loaded with lipid droplets (LDs) are markers of atherosclerosis. In this disease, inflammatory Group IIA-secreted phospholipase A2s (GIIA sPLA2s) are highly expressed in VSMCs, but their actions in these cells are unknown. Here, we investigated the ability of myotoxin III (MT-III), an ophidian GIIA sPLA2 sharing structural and functional features with mammalian GIIA sPLA2s, to induce LD formation and lipid metabolism factors involved in this effect. Modulation of VSMC phenotypes by this sPLA2 was also evaluated. Incubation of VSMCs with MT-III significantly increased the number of LDs. MT-III upregulated scavenger receptor type 1 (SR-A1) and lectin-like oxidized low-density lipoprotein receptor-1 (LOX-1) protein expression and enhanced acetylated-low density lipoprotein (acLDL) uptake by VSMCs, revealing the ability of a GIIA PLA2 to modulate scavenger receptor activities. MT-III induced translocation and protein expression of PPAR-gama and -ß/d. Inhibition of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) and diacylglycerol O-acyltransferase (DGAT) and acyl-CoA:cholesterolacyltransferase (ACAT) enzymes abrogated MT-III-induced LD formation. Moreover, in response to MT-III, VSMCs acquired phagocytic activity and expressed macrophage markers CD68 and MAC-2. In conclusion, MT-III is able to stimulate VSMCs and recruit factors involved in lipid uptake and metabolism, leading to the formation of VSMC-derived foam cells with acquisition of macrophage-like markers and functions.
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phospholipase A2;  vascular smooth muscle cells;  lipid droplets

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Giannotti KC, Weinert S, Viana MN, Leiguez E, Araujo TL.S., Laurindo FR.M., et al. A secreted phospholipase A2 induces formation of smooth muscle foam cells which transdifferentiate to macrophage-like state. Molecules. 2019 Sep;24(18):3244. doi:10.3390/molecules24183244.
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