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C-reactive protein/oxidised low-density lipoprotein/β2-glycoprotein I complex promotes atherosclerosis in diabetic BALB/c mice via p38mitogen-activated protein kinase signal pathway

Rui Zhang1, Sai-Jun Zhou1, Chun-Jun Li1, Xiao-Nan Wang2, Yun-Zhao Tang1, Rui Chen1, Lin Lv1, Qian Zhao1, Qiu-Ling Xing1, De-Min Yu1* and Pei Yu1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Diabetic Nephropathy Hemodialysis, Key Laboratory of Hormones and Development (Ministry of Health), Metabolic Diseases Hospital & Tianjin Institute of Endocrinology Tianjin Medical University, Tongan Street, Tianjin, Heping District, 300070, China

2 Department of Hand Microsurgery, Tianjin Hospital, Tianjin, 300070, China

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Lipids in Health and Disease 2013, 12:42  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-12-42

Published: 26 March 2013



The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of C-reactive protein/oxidised low-density lipoprotein/β2-glycoprotein I (CRP/oxLDL/β2GPI) complex on atherosclerosis (AS) in diabetic BALB/c mice.


BALB/c mice were fed high-fat and normal diet. Eight weeks later, the mice fed with high-fat diet were injected with streptozotocin (STZ) to induce diabetes. The diabetic mice were respectively injected twice monthly with 20 μg oxLDL, 20 μg β2GPI, 40 μg oxLDL/β2GPI complex, 44 μg CRP/oxLDL/β2GPI complex, and PBS. Aortas were stained with Sudan IV to investigate lipid plaque formation. The infiltration condition of smooth muscle cells (SMCs), macrophages, and T cells in the aortas were determined by immunohistochemistry (IH). The mRNA expressions of receptors associated with lipid metabolism were quantified by real-time PCR. The phosphorylation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38MAPK) and MKK3/6 in aorta tissues were assessed by Western blot. The expression of inflammation cytokines was evaluated by protein chip.


The lipid plaques were more extensive, the lumen area was obviously narrower, the ratio of intima and media thickness were increased, and the normal internal elastic lamia structure and endothelial cell disappeared (P < 0.05) in the oxLDL and CRP/oxLDL/β2GPI groups (P < 0.05). CRP/oxLDL/β2GPI complex dramatically promoted infiltration of SMCs, macrophages, and T cells, improved the mRNA expression of ABCA1 and ABCG1, but reduced the mRNA expression of SR-BI and CD36 and increased the phosphorylation of p38MAPK and MKK3/6 (all P < 0.05). The highest expression levels of IL-1, IL-9, PF-4, bFGF, and IGF-II were detected in the CRP/oxLDL/β2GPI group (P < 0.05).


CRP/oxLDL/β2GPI complex aggravated AS in diabetic BALB/c mice by increasing lipid uptake, the mechanism of which may be mediated by the p38MAPK signal pathway.

Diabetes; Atherosclerosis; CRP/oxLDL/β2GPI complex; p38MAPK; BALB/c mice