Anti-apolipoprotein a-1 igg influences neutrophil extracellular trap content at distinct regions of human carotid plaques

Rafaela F. da Silva, Daniela Baptista, Aline Roth, Kapka Miteva, Fabienne Burger, Nicolas Vuilleumier, Federico Carbone, Fabrizio Montecucco, François Mach, Karim J. Brandt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Neutrophils accumulate in atherosclerotic plaques. Neutrophil extracellular traps (NET) were recently identified in experimental atherosclerosis and in complex human lesions. However, not much is known about the NET marker citrullinated histone-3 (H3Cit) expression and functionality in human carotid plaques. Moreover, the association between the proatherosclerotic autoantibody anti-apolipoprotein A-1 (anti-ApoA-1 IgG) and NET has never been investigated. Methods: Atherosclerotic plaques have been obtained from 36 patients with severe carotid stenosis that underwent carotid endarterectomy for severe carotid stenosis. Samples were sectioned into upstream and downstream regions from the same artery segment. Plaque composition and expression of NET markers neutrophil elastase (NE) and H3Cit were quantified by immunohistochemistry. H3Cit expression and function was evaluated by immunofluorescence and confocal analysis in a subset of patients. Results: Pathological features of vulnerable phenotypes were exacerbated in plaques developed at downstream regions, including higher accumulation of neutrophils and enhanced expression of NE and H3Cit, as compared to plaques from upstream regions. The H3Cit signal was also more intense in downstream regions, with significant extracellular distribution in spaces outside of neutrophils. The percentage of H3Cit colocalization with CD66b (neutrophils) was markedly lower in downstream portions of carotid plaques, confirming the extrusion of NET in this region. In agreement, the maximum distance of the H3Cit signal from neutrophils, extrapolated from vortex distance calculation in all possible directions, was also higher in downstream plaques. The serum anti-ApoA-1index positively correlated with the expression of H3Cit in downstream segments of plaques. Expression of the H3Cit signal outside of neutrophils and H3Cit maximal distance from CD66b-positive cells increased in plaques from serum positive anti-ApoA-1 patients compared with serum negative patients. Conclusion: NET elements are differentially expressed in upstream versus downstream regions of human carotid plaques and may be influenced by circulating levels of anti-ApoA-1 IgG. These findings could warrant the investigation of NET elements as potential markers of vulnerability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7721
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2 2020


  • Anti-apoA-1 IgG
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Neutrophil extracellular traps
  • Vulnerable plaques

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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