CD163 deficiency increases foam cell formation and plaque progression in atherosclerotic mice

Carmen Gutiérrez-Muñoz, Nerea Méndez-Barbero, Pia Svendsen, Cristina Sastre, Valvanera Fernández-Laso, Patricia Quesada, Jesús Egido, Joan C. Escolá-Gil, Jose L. Martín-Ventura, Soren K. Moestrup, Luis M. Blanco-Colio*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

22 Downloads (Pure)


Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease characterized by the accumulation of macrophages in the vessel wall. Macrophages depend on their polarization to exert either pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory effects. Macrophages of the anti-inflammatory phenotype express high levels of CD163, a scavenger receptor for the hemoglobin-haptoglobin complex. CD163 can also bind to the pro-inflammatory cytokine TWEAK. Using ApoE-deficient or ApoE/CD163 double-deficient mice we aim to investigate the involvement of CD163 in atherosclerosis development and its capacity to neutralize the TWEAK actions. ApoE/CD163 double-deficient mice displayed a more unstable plaque phenotype characterized by an increased lipid and macrophage content, plaque size, and pro-inflammatory cytokine expression. In vitro experiments demonstrated that the absence of CD163 in M2-type macrophages-induced foam cell formation through upregulation of CD36 expression. Moreover, exogenous TWEAK administration increased atherosclerotic lesion size, lipids, and macrophages content in ApoE−/−/CD163−/− compared with ApoE−/−/CD163+/+ mice. Treatment with recombinant CD163 was able to neutralize the proatherogenic effects of TWEAK in ApoE/CD163 double-deficient mice. Recombinant CD163 abolished the pro-inflammatory actions of TWEAK on vascular smooth muscle cells, decreasing NF-kB activation, cytokines and metalloproteinases expression, and macrophages migration. In conclusion, CD163-expressing macrophages serve as a protective mechanism to prevent the deleterious effects of TWEAK on atherosclerotic plaque development and progression.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)14960-14976
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • atherosclerosis
  • CD163
  • inflammation


Dive into the research topics of 'CD163 deficiency increases foam cell formation and plaque progression in atherosclerotic mice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this