Deletion of Macrophage-Specific Glycogen Synthase Kinase (GSK)-3α Promotes Atherosclerotic Regression in Ldlr−/− Mice Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Recent evidence from our laboratory suggests that impeding ER stress–GSK3α/β signaling attenuates the progression and development of atherosclerosis in mouse model systems. The objective of this study was to determine if the tissue-specific genetic ablation of GSK3α/β could promote the regression of established atherosclerotic plaques. Five-week-old low-density lipoprotein receptor knockout (Ldlr−/−) mice were fed a high-fat diet for 16 weeks to promote atherosclerotic lesion formation. Mice were then injected with tamoxifen to induce macrophage-specific GSK3α/β deletion, and switched to standard diet for 12 weeks. All mice were sacrificed at 33 weeks of age and atherosclerosis was quantified and characterized. Female mice with induced macrophage-specific GSK3α deficiency, but not GSK3β deficiency, had reduced plaque volume (~25%) and necrosis (~40%) in the aortic sinus, compared to baseline mice. Atherosclerosis was also significantly reduced (~60%) in the descending aorta. Macrophage-specific GSK3α-deficient mice showed indications of increased plaque stability and reduced inflammation in plaques, as well as increased CCR7 and ABCA1 expression in lesional macrophages, consistent with regressive plaques. These results suggest that GSK3α ablation promotes atherosclerotic plaque regression and identify GSK3α as a potential target for the development of new therapies to treat existing atherosclerotic lesions in patients with cardiovascular disease.


  • Patel, Sarvatit
  • Mastrogiacomo, Lauren
  • Fulmer, Madison
  • Shi, Yuanyuan
  • Werstuck, Geoff

publication date

  • August 18, 2022