Absence of interferon regulatory factor 1 protects against atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice

Meng Du, Xiaojing Wang, Xiaoxiang Mao, Liu Yang, Kun Huang, Fengxiao Zhang, Yan Wang, Xi Luo, Cheng Wang, Jiangtong Peng, Minglu Liang, Dan Huang, Kai Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Deciphering the molecular and cellular processes involved in foam cell formation is critical to understanding the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. Interferon regulatory factor 1 (IRF1) was first identified as a transcriptional regulator of type-I interferons (IFNs) and IFN inducible genes. Our study aims to explore the role of IRF1 in atherosclerotic foam cell formation and understand the functional diversity of IRF1 in various cell types contributing to atherosclerosis. Methods: We induced experimental atherosclerosis in ApoE−/−IRF1−/− mice and evaluated the effect of IRF1 on disease progression and foam cell formation. Results: IRF1 expression was increased in human and mouse atherosclerotic lesions. IRF1 deficiency inhibited modified lipoprotein uptake and promoted cholesterol efflux, along with altered expression of genes implicated in lipid metabolism. Gene expression analysis identified scavenger receptor (SR)-AI as a regulated target of IRF1, and SR-AI silencing completely abrogated the increased uptake of modified lipoprotein induced by IRF1. Our data also explain a mechanism underlying endotoxemia-complicated atherogenesis as follows: two likely pro-inflammatory agents, oxidized low-density lipoprotein (ox-LDL) and bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS), exert cooperative effects on foam cell formation, which is partly attributable to a shift of IRF1-Ubc9 complex to IRF1- myeloid differentiation primary response protein 88 (Myd88) complex and subsequent IRF1 nuclear translocation. Additionally, it seems that improved function of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) also accounts for the diminished and more stable atherosclerotic plaques observed in ApoE-/-IRF1-/- mice. Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate an unanticipated role of IRF1 in the regulation of gene expression implicated in foam cell formation and identify IRF1 activation as a new risk factor in the development, progression and instability of atherosclerotic lesions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4688-4703
Number of pages16
Issue number16
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Endotoxemia
  • Foam cell formation
  • IRF1
  • Plaque stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics (miscellaneous)


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