Endothelial expression of guidance cues in vessel wall homeostasis dysregulation under proatherosclerotic conditions

Janine M. Van Gils, Bhama Ramkhelawon, Luciana Fernandes, Merran C. Stewart, Liang Guo, Tara Seibert, Gustavo B. Menezes, Denise C. Cara, Camille Chow, T. Bernard Kinane, Edward A. Fisher, Mercedes Balcells, Jacqueline Alvarez-Leite, Adam Lacy-Hulbert, Kathryn J. Moore

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

95 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE - : Emerging evidence suggests that neuronal guidance cues, typically expressed during development, are involved in both physiological and pathological immune responses. We hypothesized that endothelial expression of such guidance cues may regulate leukocyte trafficking into the vascular wall during atherogenesis. APPROACH AND RESULTS - : We demonstrate that members of the netrin, semaphorin, and ephrin family of guidance molecules are differentially regulated under conditions that promote or protect from atherosclerosis. Netrin-1 and semaphorin3A are expressed by coronary artery endothelial cells and potently inhibit chemokine-directed migration of human monocytes. Endothelial expression of these negative guidance cues is downregulated by proatherogenic factors, including oscillatory shear stress and proinflammatory cytokines associated with monocyte entry into the vessel wall. Furthermore, we show using intravital microscopy that inhibition of netrin-1 or semaphorin3A using blocking peptides increases leukocyte adhesion to the endothelium. Unlike netrin-1 and semaphorin3A, the guidance cue ephrinB2 is upregulated under proatherosclerotic flow conditions and functions as a chemoattractant, increasing leukocyte migration in the absence of additional chemokines. CONCLUSIONS - : The concurrent regulation of negative and positive guidance cues may facilitate leukocyte infiltration of the endothelium through a balance between chemoattraction and chemorepulsion. These data indicate a previously unappreciated role for axonal guidance cues in maintaining the endothelial barrier and regulating leukocyte trafficking during atherogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)911-919
Number of pages9
JournalArteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • atherosclerosis
  • axonal guidance
  • endothelial-leukocyte interaction
  • migration


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