Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease that commonly affects the elderly and is characterized by vascular damage, macrophage infiltration, and plaque formation. Moreover, it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. The pathogenesis of atherosclerosis involves an interplay between macrophage autophagy and apoptosis. A recently discovered transcription factor, transcription factor EB (TFEB) is known to activate autophagy in macrophages. Sirtuin deacetylase 1 (SIRT1), a nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD)-dependent histone deacetylase, activates several transcription factors, including TFEB. We studied the effects of berberine on the NAD synthesis pathway and interactions between SIRT1 and TFEB. We also studied the effects of berberine-induced TFEB activation via SIRT1 on autophagy and apoptosis of peritoneal macrophages. We found that berberine promoted autophagy of peritoneal macrophages by activating SIRT1 via the NAD synthesis pathway and, in turn, promoting TFEB nuclear translocation and deacetylation. The functional regulation of SIRT1 and TFEB by berberine could be exploited as a potential therapeutic strategy for atherosclerosis.
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