Atherosclerosis (AS) is one of the leading causes of mortality in high-income countries. Early diagnosis of vulnerable atherosclerotic lesions is one of the biggest challenges currently facing cardiovascular medicine. The present study focuses on developing targeted nanoparticles (NPs) in order to improve the detection of vulnerable atherosclerotic-plaques. Various biomarkers involved in the pathogenesis of atherosclerotic-plaques have been identified and one of these promising candidates for diagnostic targeting is interleukin 10 (IL10). IL10 has been shown to be a key anti-inflammatory responding cytokine in the early stages of atherogenesis, and has already been used for therapeutic interventions in humans and mice. IL10, the targeting sequence, was coupled to two different types of NPs: protamine-oligonucleotide NPs (proticles) and sterically stabilized liposomes in order to address the question of whether the recognition and detection of atherosclerotic-lesions is primarily determined by the targeting sequence itself, or whether it depends on the NP carrier system to which the biomarker is coupled. Each IL10-targeted NP was assessed based on its sensitivity and selectivity toward characterizing atherosclerotic-plaque lesions using an apolipoprotein E-deficient mouse as the model of atherosclerosis. Aortas from apolipoprotein E-deficient mice fed a high fat diet, were stained with either fluorescence-labeled IL10 or IL10-coupled NPs. Ex vivo imaging was performed using confocal laser-scanning microscopy. We found that IL10-targeted proticles generated a stronger signal by accumulating at the surface of atherosclerotic-plaques, while IL10-targeted, sterically stabilized liposomes showed a staining pattern deeper in the plaque compared to the fluorescence-labeled IL10 alone. Our results point to a promising route for enhanced in vivo imaging using IL10-targeted NPs. NPs allow a higher payload of signal emitting molecules to be delivered to the atherosclerotic-plaques, thus improving signal detection. Importantly, this allows for the opportunity to visualize different areas within the plaque scenario, depending on the nature of the applied nanocarrier.
There are several human serum proteins for which no clear role is yet known. Among these is the abundant serum protein beta2-glycoprotein-I (?2GPI), which is known to bind to negatively charged phospholipids as well as to bacterial lipopolysaccharides (LPS), and was therefore proposed to play a role in the immune response. To understand the details of these interactions, a biophysical analysis of the binding of ?2GPI to LPS and phosphatidylserine (PS) was performed. The data indicate only a moderate tendency of the protein (1) to influence the LPS-induced cytokine production in vitro, (2) to react exothermally with LPS in a non-saturable way, and (3) to change its local microenvironment upon LPS association. Additionally, we found that the protein binds more strongly to phosphatidylserine (PS) than to LPS. Furthermore, ?2GPI converts the LPS bilayer aggregates into a stronger multilamellar form, and reduces the fluidity of the hydrocarbon moiety of LPS due to a rigidification of the acyl chains. From these data it can be concluded that ?2GPI plays a role as an immune-modulating agent, but there is much less evidence for a role in immune defense against bacterial toxins such as LPS.
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