Dynamic T cell-APC interactions sustain chronic inflammation in atherosclerosis

Ekaterina K. Koltsova, Zacarias Garcia, Grzegorz Chodaczek, Michael Landau, Sara McArdle, Spencer R. Scott, Sibylle Von Vietinghoff, Elena Galkina, Yury I. Miller, Scott T. Acton, Klaus Ley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease of large and medium-sized arteries characterized by leukocyte accumulation in the vessel wall. Both innate and adaptive immune responses contribute to atherogenesis, but the identity of atherosclerosis-relevant antigens and the role of antigen presentation in this disease remain poorly characterized. We developed live-cell imaging of explanted aortas to compare the behavior and role of APCs in normal and atherosclerotic mice. We found that CD4+ T cells were capable of interacting with fluorescently labeled (CD11c-YFP+) APCs in the aortic wall in the presence, but not the absence, of cognate antigen. In atherosclerosis-prone Apoe-/-CD11c-YFP+ mice, APCs extensively interacted with CD4+ T cells in the aorta, leading to cell activation and proliferation as well as secretion of IFN-γ and TNF-α. These cytokines enhanced uptake of oxidized and minimally modified LDL by macrophages. We conclude that antigen presentation by APCs to CD4+ T cells in the arterial wall causes local T cell activation and production of proinflammatory cytokines, which promote atherosclerosis by maintaining chronic inflammation and inducing foam cell formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3114-3126
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 4 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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