Stanniocalcin-2 overexpression reduces atherosclerosis in hypercholesterolemic mice

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BACKGROUND AND AIM: The metalloproteinase pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A) has been suggested as a proatherogenic molecule by its ability to locally increase insulin-like growth factor signaling. Stanniocalcin-2 (STC2) was recently discovered to be a potent inhibitor of PAPP-A activity, but has not previously been implicated in vascular disease. The aim of this study was to substantiate the interaction between PAPP-A and STC2 as a potential local regulatory mechanism in the artery wall.

METHODS AND RESULTS: We found that PAPP-A is secreted from cultured primary smooth muscle cells obtained from human aortas as a covalent complex with STC2, devoid of proteolytic activity. Extracts of human carotid atherosclerotic plaques contain both complexed and uncomplexed PAPP-A, and we show by immunohistochemistry that PAPP-A and STC2 are present in the tissue throughout early human lesion development. We then used adeno-associated virus-mediated expression of STC2 to increase the fraction of PAPP-A present in the inhibited state and found that it decreased the development of atherosclerosis by 47% (P = 0.0005) in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice challenged with a Western type diet compared to controls.

CONCLUSIONS: This study is the first to suggest the involvement of STC2 in regulating PAPP-A activity during the development of atherosclerosis. Furthermore, we demonstrate that lesion development can be inhibited in an experimental model by driving the balance towards inhibited PAPP-A.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-43
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - May 2016

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