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PloS one

COX-2 protects against atherosclerosis independently of local vascular prostacyclin: identification of COX-2 associated pathways implicate Rgl1 and lymphocyte networks.


PMID 24887395

Abstract

Cyxlo-oxygenase (COX)-2 inhibitors, including traditional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are associated with increased cardiovascular side effects, including myocardial infarction. We and others have shown that COX-1 and not COX-2 drives vascular prostacyclin in the healthy cardiovascular system, re-opening the question of how COX-2 might regulate cardiovascular health. In diseased, atherosclerotic vessels, the relative contribution of COX-2 to prostacyclin formation is not clear. Here we have used apoE(-/-)/COX-2(-/-) mice to show that, whilst COX-2 profoundly limits atherosclerosis, this protection is independent of local prostacyclin release. These data further illustrate the need to look for new explanations, targets and pathways to define the COX/NSAID/cardiovascular risk axis. Gene expression profiles in tissues from apoE(-/-)/COX-2(-/-) mice showed increased lymphocyte pathways that were validated by showing increased T-lymphocytes in plaques and elevated plasma Th1-type cytokines. In addition, we identified a novel target gene, rgl1, whose expression was strongly reduced by COX-2 deletion across all examined tissues. This study is the first to demonstrate that COX-2 protects vessels against atherosclerotic lesions independently of local vascular prostacyclin and uses systems biology approaches to identify new mechanisms relevant to development of next generation NSAIDs.