Gonçalves I, Singh P, Tengryd C, Cavalera M, Yao Mattisson I, Nitulescu M, Flor Persson A, Volkov P, Engström G, Orho-Melander M, Nilsson J, Edsfeldt A
Stroke 50 (8) 1989-1996 [2019-08-00; online 2019-07-05]
Background and Purpose- Cellular apoptosis is an important feature in atherosclerosis, contributing to necrotic core formation, and plaque vulnerability. Activation of the death receptor TRAIL-R2 (TNF [tumor necrosis factor]-related apoptosis-inducing ligand receptor 2) through its ligand tumor necrosis factor-relate apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), induces apoptosis in cells in vitro. sTRAIL-R2 (soluble TRAIL-R2) was recently shown to predict cardiovascular events in healthy individuals. In the present study, we explored if plaque levels of sTRAIL-R2 and sTRAIL reflect plaque apoptosis and vulnerability and if plasma levels of these markers predict future events in subjects with advanced atherosclerosis. Methods- Plasma from 558 patients and 202 carotid plaques from the Carotid Plaque Imaging Project biobank were used. sTRAIL-R2, sTRAIL, and caspase-8 levels were assessed using a Proseek Multiplex CVD96×96 assay. Active caspase-3 was measured using ELISA to assess plaque apoptosis. Plaque morphology was studied by immunohistochemistry. Inflammatory cytokines were assessed by Luminex. mRNA levels were quantified by RNA sequencing. Monocytes, T cells, B cells, and human coronary artery smooth muscle cells were used to study sTRAIL-R2 and sTRAIL release on cell apoptosis and inflammatory stimuli in vitro. Results- Plaque levels of sTRAIL-R2 and sTRAIL correlated to markers of extrinsic induced apoptosis (caspase-3 and -8). sTRAIL-R2 and sTRAIL protein expression were increased in symptomatic carotid plaques and patients with higher plasma levels of sTRAIL-R2 had a higher risk of future cardiovascular events. sTRAIL-R2 and sTRAIL were released upon activation of the extrinsic apoptosis pathway in vitro. sTRAIL-R2 and sTRAIL correlated with inflammatory cytokines, to CD68 expression and inversely to α-actin in the plaque tissue. Conclusions- The present study shows that sTRAIL-R2 and sTRAIL are associated to human plaque cell apoptosis, plaque inflammatory activity, and with symptomatic carotid plaques. Furthermore, high plasma levels of sTRAIL-R2 in plasma predict, independently, future cardiovascular events in individuals with manifest atherosclerotic disease.