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Isabelle Coornaert Laboratory of Physiopharmacology, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
Infla-Med Centre of Excellence, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium

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Annelies Breynaert NatuRAPT Research Group, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium

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Nina Hermans NatuRAPT Research Group, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium

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Guido R Y De Meyer Laboratory of Physiopharmacology, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
Infla-Med Centre of Excellence, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium

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Wim Martinet Laboratory of Physiopharmacology, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
Infla-Med Centre of Excellence, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium

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The impact of α-tocopherol on atherosclerosis is unclear and controversial. While some studies suggest potential benefits, such as antioxidant properties that may reduce oxidative stress, other studies indicate no significant preventive effects. The intricate interplay of various factors, including dosage, individual differences, and study methodologies, contributes to the ongoing uncertainty surrounding α-tocopherol’s role in atherosclerosis. Further research is needed to clarify its impact and establish clearer guidelines. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate the impact of α-tocopherol on atherogenesis in ApoE−/− fibrillin (Fbn)1C1039G/+ mice, which is a unique mouse model of advanced atherosclerosis with typical features, such as large necrotic cores, high levels of inflammation, and intraplaque neovascularization, that resemble the unstable phenotype of human plaques. ApoE−/− Fbn1C1039G+/− mice were fed a western-type diet (WD) supplemented with a high dose of α-tocopherol (500 mg/kg diet), while control mice were fed a WD containing a low dose of α-tocopherol (50 mg/kg diet). The high dose of α-tocopherol reduced plaque thickness and necrotic core area in the right common carotid artery (RCCA) after 24 weeks WD. Moreover, α-tocopherol decreased plaque formation and intraplaque neovascularization in the RCCA. In addition to its antiatherogenic effect, chronic supplementation of α-tocopherol improved cardiac function in ApoE−/− Fbn1C1039G/+ mice. However, chronic supplementation of α-tocopherol did not decrease lipid peroxidation. On the contrary, α-tocopherol acted as a prooxidant by increasing plasma levels of oxidized LDL and plaque malondialdehyde, an end product of lipid peroxidation. Our data indicate that α-tocopherol inhibits atherogenesis and improves cardiac function independent of its antioxidant properties.

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Isabelle Coornaert Laboratory of Physiopharmacology, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
Infla-Med Centre of Excellence, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium

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Annelies Breynaert NatuRAPT Research Group, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium

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Nina Hermans NatuRAPT Research Group, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium

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Guido R Y De Meyer Laboratory of Physiopharmacology, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
Infla-Med Centre of Excellence, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium

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Wim Martinet Laboratory of Physiopharmacology, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
Infla-Med Centre of Excellence, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium

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Ferroptosis is a type of regulated necrosis that is associated with iron-dependent accumulation of lipid hydroperoxides. Given that iron deposition and lipid peroxidation initiate ferroptosis in atherosclerosis and contribute to further plaque development, we hypothesized that inhibition of ferroptosis could be of value in the treatment of atherosclerosis. Glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4) is the only enzyme known capable of reducing lipid hydroperoxides. Previous studies have demonstrated that inactivation of GPX4 results in ferroptosis, while overexpression of GPX4 confers resistance to ferroptosis. In the present study, we examined the impact of GPX4 overexpression on the development of atherosclerotic plaques. GPX4-overexpressing mice (GPX4Tg/+) were crossbred with ApoE−/− mice and fed a western-type diet for 16 weeks. Atherosclerotic plaques of GPX4Tg/+ ApoE−/− mice showed increased GPX4 expression and a reduced amount of lipid hydroperoxides. However, plaque size and composition were not different as compared to control animals. Similarly, GPX4-overexpressing vascular smooth muscle cells and bone marrow-derived macrophages were not protected against lipid peroxidation and cell death triggered by the ferroptosis inducers erastin and 1S,3R-RSL3. We concluded that GPX4 overexpression reduces lipid peroxidation in plaques of ApoE−/− mice, yet GPX4 overexpression is not sufficiently powerful to change plaque size or composition.

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