Background： Tanshinone IIA (Tan IIA) and Omentin-1 have a protective role in the cardiovascular system. However, if and how Tan IIA and Omentin-1 regulate cholesterol metabolism in macrophages has not been fully elucidated.
Objective: To investigate the possible mechanisms of Tan IIA and Omentin-1 on preventing macrophage cholesterol accumulation and atherosclerosis development.
Methods: The effect of Tan IIA on the protein and mRNA levels of Omentin-1 and ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1) in macrophages was examined by Western blot and qRT-PCR assay, respectively. Cholesterol efflux was assessed by liquid scintillation counting (LSC). Cellular lipid droplet was measured by Oil Red O staining, and intracellular lipid content was detected by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). In addition, the serum lipid profile of apoE−/− mice was measured by an enzymatic method. The size of atherosclerotic lesion areas and content of lipids and collagen in the aortic of apoE−/− mice were examined by sudan IV, Oil-red O, and Masson staining, respectively.
Results: Tan IIA up-regulated expression of Omentin-1 and ABCA1 in THP-1 macrophages, promoting ABCA1-mediated cholesterol efflux and consequently decreasing cellular lipid content. Consistently, Tan IIA increased reverse cholesterol transport in apoE−/− mice. Plasma levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), ABCA1 expression and atherosclerotic plaque collagen content were increased while plasma levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and atherosclerotic plaque sizes were reduced in Tan IIA-treated apoE−/− mice. These beneficial effects were, however, essentially blocked by knockdown of Omentin-1.
Conclusions: Our results revealed that Tan IIA promotes cholesterol efflux and ameliorates lipid accumulation in macrophages most likely via the Omentin-1/ABCA1pathway, reducing the development of aortic atherosclerosis.