Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is one of a number of diseases associated with a prominent inflammatory cell infiltrate and local destruction of structural matrix macromolecules. This chronic infiltrate is predominately composed of macrophages and T lymphocytes. Activated macrophages produce a variety of cytokines, including TNF-α. Elevated levels of TNF-α were observed in patients with AAA, suggesting that TNF-α may play a role in the pathogenic mechanisms of AAA. In the present study, we investigated the role of TNF-α in AAA formation. By studying a murine aneurysm model, we found that both mRNA and protein levels of TNF-α were increased in aneurysm tissue compared with normal aortic tissues. Therefore, we tested the response of mice lacking expression of TNF-α. These mice were resistant to aneurysm formation. Our results show that TNF-α deficiency attenuates matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) 2 and MMP-9 expression and macrophage infiltration into the aortic tissue. These data suggest that TNF-α plays a central role in regulating matrix remodeling and inflammation in the aortic wall leading to AAA. In addition, we investigated the pharmacological inhibition of AAA. A Food and Drug Administration-approved TNF-α antagonist, infliximab, inhibited aneurysm growth. Our data also show that infliximab treatment attenuated elastic fiber disruption, macrophage infiltration, and MMP-2 and MMP-9 expression in aortic tissue. This study confirms that a strategy of TNF-α antagonism may be an important therapeutic strategy for treating AAA.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy