Biochemistry, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in final edited form as: Atherosclerosis. 2022 June ; 350: 9–18. doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2022.04.010.

HHS Public Access Author manuscript Atherosclerosis. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2023 May 08.


Background and aims: Chronic vascular endothelial inflammation predisposes to atherosclerosis; however, the cell-autonomous roles for endothelial-expressing microRNAs (miRNAs) are poorly understood in this process. MiR-181b is expressed in several cellular constituents relevant to lesion formation. The aim of this study is to examine the role of genetic deficiency of the miR-181b locus in endothelial cells during atherogenesis.

Methods and Results: Using a proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9)-induced atherosclerosis mouse model, we demonstrated that endothelial cell (EC)-specific deletion of miR-181a2b2 significantly promoted atherosclerotic lesion formation, cell adhesion molecule expression, and the influx of lesional macrophages in the vessel wall. Yet, endothelium deletion of miR-181a2b2 did not affect body weight, lipid metabolism, anti-inflammatory Ly6Clow or the pro-inflammatory Ly6Cinterm and Ly6Chigh fractions in circulating peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), and pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory mediators in both bone marrow (BM) and PBMCs. Mechanistically, bulk RNA-seq and gene set enrichment analysis of ECs enriched from the aortic arch intima, as well as single cell RNA-seq from atherosclerotic lesions, revealed that endothelial miR-181a2b2 serves as a critical regulatory hub in controlling endothelial inflammation, cell adhesion, cell cycle, and immune response during atherosclerosis.

Conclusions: Our study establishes that deficiency of a miRNA specifically in the vascular endothelium is sufficient to profoundly impact atherogenesis. Endothelial miR-181a2b2 deficiency regulates multiple key pathways related to endothelial inflammation, cell adhesion, cell cycle, and immune response involved in the development of atherosclerosis.