The CD163-expressing macrophages recognize and internalize TWEAK. Potential consequences in atherosclerosis

Juan A. Moreno, Begoña Muñoz-García, Jose L. Martín-Ventura, Julio Madrigal-Matute, Josune Orbe, Jose A. Páramo, Luis Ortega, Jesús Egido, Luis M. Blanco-Colio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Background: CD163 is a new potential scavenger receptor of Tumor necrosis factor-like weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK) which elicits diverse biologic actions involved in atherosclerosis. We have analyzed the importance of TWEAK-CD163 interaction in atherosclerosis. Methods: TWEAK and CD163 interaction was studied in cultured human macrophages. Moreover, TWEAK and CD163 expression was analyzed in carotid atherosclerotic plaques (immunohistochemistry) and plasma (ELISA). We have also assessed their potential association with intima/media thickness (IMT) in asymptomatic subjects. Results: In vitro studies revealed that CD163-expressing macrophages can bind and internalize TWEAK protein exogenously added from supernatants. Accordingly, we observed an inverse correlation between the expression of CD163 and TWEAK (r = -0.51; p = 0.008) in the shoulder region of atherosclerotic plaques obtained from 25 patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy. The same trend was observed when we analyzed the plasma concentration of both proteins in 90 subjects free from clinical cardiovascular disease (r = -0.25; p = 0.016) in which carotid ultrasonography was performed to determine IMT. In these subjects, we found a positive correlation between sCD163 and IMT (r = 0.36; p < 0.001) and between sCD163-sTWEAK ratio and IMT (r = 0.51; p < 0.001). This association remained significant after adjusting for traditional cardiovascular risk factors and inflammatory markers explaining 39% (sCD163) or 48% (sCD163-sTWEAK ratio) of IMT variance. Conclusions: Our results suggest that TWEAK-CD163 interaction takes place in vivo, probably decreasing TWEAK plasma concentration. Furthermore, we have observed that CD163-TWEAK plasma ratio is a potential biomarker of clinical and subclinical atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-110
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • CD163
  • Carotid artery
  • Plasma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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