mixed lineage kinase domain-like pseudokinase (MLKL), one of the main downstream components of the necroptosis or programmed necrosis has recently been demonstrated in advanced atherosclerotic lesions. However, its precise role in the atherosclerosis pathogenesis still requires more elucidation. Our study was set to delineate both the changes in peripheral MLKL gene expression and its influence on disease severity in atherosclerotic patients with and without type 2 diabetes mellitus.
The study involved 50 patients (20 non-diabetics and 30 diabetics) undergoing coronary artery bypass graft and 20 apparently healthy controls. Taqman RT-PCR was used to quantify MLKL mRNA expression levels, while ELISA was employed to estimate serum insulin and high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) levels.
Compared with the control group, MLKL gene was up regulated significantly in cardiovascular diseases (CVD; p ≤ 0.001). Higher MLKL expression was demonstrated in diabetic CVD group than non-diabetic group (p < 0.05). Correlation studies reported positive associations between MLKL and markers of dyslipidemia, inflammation, and insulin resistance. Multiple regression analysis revealed that FBG levels, hsCRP levels, and total white blood cells count were significant predictors for MLKL levels. Receiver operating characteristic curve showed a significant diagnostic value of MLKL for CVD. Moreover, regression analysis demonstrated that MLKL and hsCRP were independent predicting factors for the severity of CVD.
MLKL is linked to hallmarks of atherosclerosis and could explain increased cardiovascular risk in diabetic patients. Thus, it can be a potential drug target for treatment of atherosclerotic patients.