Linked chromosome 16q13 chemokines, macrophage-derived chemokine, fractalkine, and thymus- and activation-regulated chemokine, are expressed in human atherosclerotic lesions.
Greaves DR., Häkkinen T., Lucas AD., Liddiard K., Jones E., Quinn CM., Senaratne J., Green FR., Tyson K., Boyle J., Shanahan C., Weissberg PL., Gordon S., Ylä-Hertualla S.
Chemokines are important mediators of macrophage and T-cell recruitment in a number of inflammatory pathologies, and chemokines expressed in atherosclerotic lesions may play an important role in mononuclear cell recruitment and macrophage differentiation. We have analyzed the expression of the linked chromosome 16q13 genes that encode macrophage-derived chemokine (MDC/CCL22), thymus- and activation-regulated chemokine (TARC/CCL17), and the CX(3)C chemokine fractalkine (CX(3)CL1) in primary macrophages and human atherosclerotic lesions by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry. We show that macrophage expression of the chemokines MDC, fractalkine, and TARC is upregulated by treatment with the Th2-type cytokines interleukin-4 and interleukin-13. High levels of MDC, TARC, and fractalkine mRNA expression are seen in some, but not all, human arteries with advanced atherosclerotic lesions. Immunohistochemistry shows that MDC, fractalkine, and TARC are expressed by a subset of macrophages within regions of plaques that contain plaque microvessels. We conclude that MDC, fractalkine, and TARC, which are chromosome 16q13 chemokines, could play a role in mononuclear cell recruitment into atherosclerotic lesions and influence the subsequent inflammatory response. Macrophage-expressed chemokines upregulated by interleukin-4 may be useful surrogate markers for the presence of Th2-type immune responses in human atherosclerotic lesions.