Maternal hypercholesterolemia induces early onset of cardiovascular diseases in offspring; however, its underlying mechanism remains poorly understood. We hypothesized that maternal hypercholesterolemia increases offspring susceptibility to atherosclerosis in adulthood through developmental modifications of macrophages. Female apolipoprotein E (ApoE)-deficient mice were fed a Western-type diet (WD) or a control diet (CD) prior to and throughout gestation and lactation. The offspring were all fed a WD after weaning. Sixteen-week-old female offspring of WD-fed dams showed a significant increase in atherosclerotic lesions of the aorta and aortic root compared with those of CD-fed dams. This effect was associated with increased macrophage accumulation within lesions, macrophage inflammation and an increase in circulating Ly6C high monocyte and F4/80 macrophage counts. We further evidenced that in utero WD exposure promoted macrophage polarization toward the M1 phenotype by elevating M1 markers (Cd86, Inos/Nos2) without affecting M2 markers (Cd206, Arg1). Proinflammatory cytokine synthesis was also enhanced in response to LPS. Finally, maternal WD intake strongly inhibited the macrophage expression of Pparg and Lxra , which was associated with aberrant DNA methylation of Lxra promoter. Our findings demonstrate that maternal hypercholesterolemia exacerbates atherosclerosis, in part by altering the epigenetic state of the macrophage genome of the offspring, imprinting gene expression, and changing macrophage polarization, which ultimately contributes to plaque macrophage burden.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Inc.