A functional role for inducible costimulator (ICOS) in atherosclerosis

Arnon Afek, Dror Harats, Arie Roth, Gad Keren, Jacob George*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Lymphocytes appear to influence atherosclerosis by altering cytokine production. Whereas primary lymphocyte activation requires T cell receptor ligation, costimulatory signals also appear requisite for generation of a functional T cell response. Inducible costimulator (ICOS) is a newly discovered T cell molecule with a dual role in immune mediated disorders. Herein, we tested the importance of ICOS in atherosclerosis. Methods and results: Atherosclerotic plaques from ApoE-KO mice were studied immunohistochemically for the presence and localization of ICOS and its receptors and its expression in splenocytes. ApoE-KO mice were immunized with human ICOS/Fc-chimera or non-fused Fc and either provided a chow diet for 6 weeks, or a high fat diet for 8 weeks. Spleen cells from atherosclerotic mice exhibited lowered constitutive expression of ICOS yet priming with oxLDL enhanced ICOS expression dose-dependently. In mice induced to develop fatty streaks and to generate ICOS blocking antibodies, early atherosclerosis was increased by ∼77% whereas upon inducing more advanced lesions, the increase in plaque area upon ICOS blockade group was ∼36%. IFN-gamma secretion by oxLDL-primed splenocytes in ICOS-immunized mice increased whereas IL-10 secretion diminished as compared to control animals. A similar trend in cytokine production was evident in the lesion by immunohistochemistry. Conclusion: ICOS appears as an influential costimulatory pathway in atherosclerosis that may play a protective rather that a proatherogenic role.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-63
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Immune system
  • Lymphocyte
  • Oxidized LDL


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