Journal of lipid research

Protein kinase R-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase and glycogen synthase kinase-3α/β regulate foam cell formation.

PMID 25183803


Evidence suggests a causative role for endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in the development of atherosclerosis. This study investigated the potential role of glycogen synthase kinase (GSK)-3α/β in proatherogenic ER stress signaling. Thp1-derived macrophages were treated with the ER stress-inducing agents, glucosamine, thapsigargin, or palmitate. Using small-molecule inhibitors of specific unfolded protein response (UPR) signaling pathways, we found that protein kinase R-like ER kinase (PERK), but not inositol requiring enzyme 1 or activating transcription factor 6, is required for the activation of GSK3α/β by ER stress. GSK3α/β inhibition or siRNA-directed knockdown attenuated ER stress-induced expression of distal components of the PERK pathway. Macrophage foam cells within atherosclerotic plaques and isolated macrophages from ApoE(-/-) mice fed a diet supplemented with the GSK3α/β inhibitor valproate had reduced levels of C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP). GSK3α/β inhibition blocked ER stress-induced lipid accumulation and the upregulation of genes associated with lipid metabolism. In primary mouse macrophages, PERK inhibition blocked ER stress-induced lipid accumulation, whereas constitutively active S9A-GSK3β promoted foam cell formation and CHOP expression, even in cells treated with a PERK inhibitor. These findings suggest that ER stress-PERK-GSK3α/β signaling promotes proatherogenic macrophage lipid accumulation.