Atherosclerosis Impairs Naive CD4 T-Cell Responses via Disruption of Glycolysis

Dalia E. Gaddis, Lindsey E. Padgett, Runpei Wu, Anh Nguyen, Chantel McSkimming, Huy Q. Dinh, Daniel J. Araujo, Angela M. Taylor, Coleen A. McNamara, Catherine C. Hedrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: CD4 T cells are important regulators of atherosclerotic progression. The metabolic profile of CD4 T cells controls their signaling and function, but how atherosclerosis affects T-cell metabolism is unknown. Here, we sought to determine the impact of atherosclerosis on CD4 T-cell metabolism and the contribution of such metabolic alterations to atheroprogression. APPROACH AND RESULTS: Using PCR arrays, we profiled the expression of metabolism genes in CD4 T cells from atherosclerotic apolipoprotein-E knockout mice fed a Western diet. These cells exhibited dysregulated expression of genes critically involved in glycolysis and fatty acid degradation, compared with those from animals fed a standard laboratory diet. We examined how T-cell metabolism was changed in either Western diet–fed apolipoprotein-E knockout mice or samples from patients with cardiovascular disease by measuring glucose uptake, activation, and proliferation in CD4 T cells. We found that naive CD4 T cells from Western diet–fed apolipoprotein-E knockout mice failed to uptake glucose and displayed impaired proliferation and activation, compared with CD4 T cells from standard laboratory diet–fed animals. Similarly, we observed that naive CD4 T-cell frequencies were reduced in the circulation of human subjects with high cardiovascular disease compared with low cardiovascular disease. Naive T cells from high cardiovascular disease subjects also showed reduced proliferative capacity. CONCLUSIONS: These results highlight the dysfunction that occurs in CD4 T-cell metabolism and immune responses during atherosclerosis. Targeting metabolic pathways within naive CD4 T cells could thus yield novel therapeutic approaches for improving CD4 T-cell responses against atheroprogression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2387-2398
Number of pages12
JournalArteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Glucose
  • Laboratories
  • Metabolism
  • T lymphocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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