Oxidized LDL induces vimentin secretion by macrophages and contributes to atherosclerotic inflammation

Seo Yeon Kim, Wonkyoung Cho, Inyeong Kim, Sang Hak Lee, Goo Taeg Oh, Young Mi Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Abstract: Activated macrophages show increased expression of vimentin, an intermediate filament protein. Macrophages secrete vimentin into extracellular space; however, the functions of extracellular vimentin and the process of vimentin secretion are not clearly defined. We found that oxidized low-density lipoproteins (oxLDL) via CD36 induced vimentin secretion in macrophages. We also revealed that extracellular vimentin induced macrophages to release inflammatory cytokines and augmented oxLDL-induced release of TNF-α and IL-6. Extracellular vimentin activated NF-κB signaling via phosphorylation of focal adhesion kinase (p-FAK) and IκB kinase (p-IκK). Extracellular vimentin also amplified the oxLDL-induced p-IκK increase and IκB decrease. Vimentin-induced TNF-α release was not dependent on Dectin-1, which is known to bind vimentin. We measured serum vimentin concentrations and found that patients with atherosclerotic coronary artery disease had higher levels of serum vimentin than normal subjects. Circulating oxLDL and vimentin concentrations showed a high degree of correlation. In mouse experiments, vimentin concentration was higher in the sera of apoE null mice with western diet–induced atherosclerosis than in the sera of chow diet–fed apoE null mice without atherosclerosis. We concluded that vimentin is secreted by oxLDL/CD36 interaction in macrophages and extracellular vimentin promotes macrophage release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. This may contribute to atherosclerotic inflammation and based on our analysis of serum vimentin, we suggest serum vimentin as a predictive marker for atherosclerosis. Key messages: OxLDL via CD36 induces secretion of vimentin, a cytoskeletal protein in macrophages.Extracellular vimentin induces macrophages to release proinflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrotizing factor-alpha (TNF-α) and this process is mediated by activation of focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and NF-ƙB signaling.Serum concentrations of vimentin in coronary artery disease patients are higher than that in control group.Vimentin concentration is strongly correlated with oxLDL concentration in serum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)973-983
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Molecular Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Intermediate filament
  • NF-κB signaling
  • Oxidized LDL
  • TNF-α
  • Vimentin


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