Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 29157095
Blood flowing in arteries generates shear forces at the surface of the vascular endothelium that control its anti-atherogenic properties. However, due to the architecture of the vascular tree, these shear forces are heterogeneous and atherosclerotic plaques develop preferentially in areas where shear is low or disturbed. Here we review our recent study showing that elevated shear forces stimulate endothelial autophagic flux and that inactivating the endothelial macroautophagy/autophagy pathway promotes a proinflammatory, prosenescent and proapoptotic cell phenotype despite the presence of atheroprotective shear forces. Specific deficiency in endothelial autophagy in a murine model of atherosclerosis stimulates the development of atherosclerotic lesions exclusively in areas of the vasculature that are normally resistant to atherosclerosis. Our findings demonstrate that adequate endothelial autophagic flux limits atherosclerotic plaque formation by preventing endothelial apoptosis, senescence and inflammation.