Endothelial cell-specific deletion of a microRNA accelerates atherosclerosis

Dafeng Yang, Stefan Haemmig, Jingshu Chen, Michael McCoy, Henry S. Cheng, Haoyang Zhou, Daniel Pérez-Cremades, Xiao Cheng, Xinghui Sun, Jorge Haneo-Mejia, Shamsudheen K. Vellarikkal, Rajat M. Gupta, Victor Barrera, Mark W. Feinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background and aims: Chronic vascular endothelial inflammation predisposes to atherosclerosis; however, the cell-autonomous roles for endothelial-expressing microRNAs (miRNAs) are poorly understood in this process. MiR-181b is expressed in several cellular constituents relevant to lesion formation. The aim of this study is to examine the role of genetic deficiency of the miR-181b locus in endothelial cells during atherogenesis. Methods and Results: Using a proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9)-induced atherosclerosis mouse model, we demonstrated that endothelial cell (EC)-specific deletion of miR-181a2b2 significantly promoted atherosclerotic lesion formation, cell adhesion molecule expression, and the influx of lesional macrophages in the vessel wall. Yet, endothelium deletion of miR-181a2b2 did not affect body weight, lipid metabolism, anti-inflammatory Ly6Clow or the pro-inflammatory Ly6Cinterm and Ly6Chigh fractions in circulating peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), and pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory mediators in both bone marrow (BM) and PBMCs. Mechanistically, bulk RNA-seq and gene set enrichment analysis of ECs enriched from the aortic arch intima, as well as single cell RNA-seq from atherosclerotic lesions, revealed that endothelial miR-181a2b2 serves as a critical regulatory hub in controlling endothelial inflammation, cell adhesion, cell cycle, and immune response during atherosclerosis. Conclusions: Our study establishes that deficiency of a miRNA specifically in the vascular endothelium is sufficient to profoundly impact atherogenesis. Endothelial miR-181a2b2 deficiency regulates multiple key pathways related to endothelial inflammation, cell adhesion, cell cycle, and immune response involved in the development of atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-18
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Endothelial cells
  • microRNA-181b

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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