Soluble Urokinase Plasminogen Activator Receptor is Associated With Inflammation in the Vulnerable Human Atherosclerotic Plaque
Background and Purpose—Recently, plasma soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR) has gained interest as a marker of cardiovascular risk. suPAR is released through the cleavage of urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR), which is found in monocytes, activated T-lymphocytes and endothelial cells, all involved in atherosclerosis. suPAR levels have been well studied in plasma, but no studies have focused on suPAR in human atherosclerotic plaques. The aim of this study was to determine whether suPAR measured in the plaque is associated with symptomatic plaques and plaque inflammation.
Methods—Plasma and carotid plaques from 162 patients were analyzed. Lipids, collagen, uPAR, and macrophages were measured histologically. Cytokines and suPAR were measured in homogenized plaque extracts using multiplex immunoassay and ELISA, respectively. Plasma levels of suPAR were analysed with ELISA. CD3, CD4, as well as uPAR mRNA expression were assessed with quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction in plaque homogenates from 123 patients.
Results—Plaque and plasma suPAR levels were higher in symptomatic patients compared with asymptomatic patients. Plaque suPAR levels correlated with plaque content of lipids and macrophages and with proinflammatory chemokines and cytokines monocyte chemoattractant protein 1, tumor necrosis factor α, interleukin 1β, interleukin 6, platelet-derived growth factor AB/BB, monocyte inflammatory protein 1β, regulated on activation normal T-cell expressed and secreted, and s-CD40L. uPAR mRNA and histological staining for uPAR correlated with plaque content of suPAR.
Conclusion—This study shows that suPAR in human carotid plaques and plasma is associated with the presence of symptoms and that plaque suPAR is associated with the vulnerable inflammatory plaque. These findings strengthen the hypothesis of suPAR as a future marker of vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques.
- Received May 16, 2012.
- Revision received August 19, 2012.
- Accepted September 5, 2012.
- © 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.