Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology

Dominant Negative PPARγ Promotes Atherosclerosis, Vascular Dysfunction and Hypertension Through Distinct Effects in Endothelium and Vascular Muscle

Christopher J. Pelham, Henry L. Keen, Steven R. Lentz, Curt D. Sigmund


Agonists of the nuclear hormone receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) have potent insulin-sensitizing effects and inhibit atherosclerosis progression in patients with type II diabetes. Conversely, missense mutations in the ligand-binding domain of PPARγ that render the transcription factor dominant negative (DN) cause early-onset hypertension and type II diabetes. We tested the hypothesis that DN PPARγ-mediated interference of endogenous wild-type PPARγ in the endothelium and vascular smooth muscle exacerbates atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E-deficient (ApoE-/-) mice. Endothelial-specific expression of DN PPARγ on the ApoE-/- background unmasked significant impairment of endothelium-dependent relaxation in aortic rings, increased systolic blood pressure, altered expression of atherogenic markers (e.g. Cd36, Mcp1, Catalase) and enhanced diet-induced atherosclerotic lesion formation in aorta. Smooth muscle-specific expression of DN PPARγ, which induces aortic dysfunction and increased systolic blood pressure at baseline, also resulted in enhanced diet-induced atherosclerotic lesion formation in aorta on the ApoE-/- background that was associated with altered expression of a shared, yet distinct, set of atherogenic markers (e.g. Cd36, Mcp1, Osteopontin, Vcam1). In particular, induction of Osteopontin expression by smooth muscle-specific DN PPARγ correlated with increased plaque calcification. These data demonstrate that inhibition of PPARγ function specifically in the vascular endothelium or smooth muscle may contribute to cardiovascular disease.

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Endothelium
  • Smooth Muscle
  • Hypertension