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Leukocytosis and enhanced susceptibility to endotoxemia but not atherosclerosis in adrenalectomized APOE knockout mice

Hoekstra, M;Frodermann, V;van den Aardweg, T;van der Sluis, RJ;Kuiper, J;

Hyperlipidemic apolipoprotein E (APOE) knockout mice show an enhanced level of adrenal-derived anti-inflammatory glucocorticoids. Here we determined in APOE knockout mice the impact of total removal of adrenal function through adrenalectomy (ADX) on two inflammation-associated pathologies, endotoxemia and atherosclerosis. ADX mice exhibited 91% decreased corticosterone levels (P<0.001), leukocytosis (WBC count: 10.0 0.4 x 10E9/L vs 6.5 0.5 x 10E9/L; P<0.001) and an increased spleen weight (P<0.01). FACS analysis on blood leukocytes revealed increased B-lymphocyte numbers (55 2% vs 46 1%; P<0.01). T-cell populations in blood appeared to be more immature (CD62L+: 26 2% vs 19 1% for CD4+ T-cells, P<0.001 and 58 7% vs 47 4% for CD8+ T-cells, P<0.05), which coincided with immature CD4/CD8 double positive thymocyte enrichment. Exposure to lipopolysaccharide failed to increase corticosterone levels in ADX mice and was associated with a 3-fold higher (P<0.05) TNF-alpha response. In contrast, the development of initial fatty streak lesions and progression to advanced collagen-containing atherosclerotic lesions was unaffected. Plasma cholesterol levels were decreased by 35% (P<0.001) in ADX mice. This could be attributed to a decrease in pro-atherogenic very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) as a result of a diminished hepatic VLDL secretion rate (-24%; P<0.05). In conclusion, our studies show that adrenalectomy induces leukocytosis and enhances the susceptibility for endotoxemia in APOE knockout mice. The adrenalectomy-associated rise in white blood cells, however, does not alter atherosclerotic lesion development probably due to the parallel decrease in plasma levels of pro-atherogenic lipoproteins.