Migration of macrophages and atherosclerosis result in various diseases, including coronary heart disease. This study aimed to clarify the roles that ghrelin and Rho-associated coiled-coil-containing protein kinase 2 (ROCK2) play in migration of macrophages under chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH).
A rat model of CIH was constructed and changes in ghrelin and ROCK2 protein expression were measured by western blot assay. The migratory ability of macrophages was determined by the transwell assay. Hematoxylin and eosin staining was applied to detect the changes in intima-media thickness.
We found that CIH enhanced migration of macrophages, and this effect was attenuated by exogenous ghrelin. Additionally, the facilitative effect of CIH on migration of macrophages was strengthened or decreased by upregulation or downregulation of ROCK2, respectively. This phenomenon indicated that ROCK2 was involved in CIH-induced migration in macrophages. Furthermore, western blot and transwell assays showed that ghrelin inhibited CIH-induced migration via ROCK2 suppression in macrophages.
In summary, the present study shows that ghrelin inhibits CIH-induced migration via ROCK2 suppression in macrophages. Our research may help lead to identifying a new molecular mechanism for targeted therapy of atherosclerosis and its associated coronary artery diseases under intermittent hypoxia.