TFEB and trehalose drive the macrophage autophagy-lysosome system to protect against atherosclerosis

Trent D. Evans, Se Jin Jeong, Xiangyu Zhang, Ismail Sergin, Babak Razani

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

121 Scopus citations


In the atherosclerotic plaque, macrophages are the key catabolic workhorse responsible for clearing lipid and dead cell debris. To survive the highly proinflammatory and lipotoxic plaque environment, macrophages must adopt strategies for maintaining tight homeostasis and self-renewal. Macroautophagy/autophagy is a pro-survival cellular pathway wherein damaged or excess cellular cargoes are encapsulated by a double-membrane compartment and delivered to the lysosome for hydrolysis. Previously, macrophage-specific autophagy deficiency has been shown to be atherogenic through several complementary mechanisms including hyperactivation of the inflammasome, defective efferocytosis, accumulation of cytotoxic protein aggregates, and impaired lipid degradation. Conversely, in a recent study we hypothesized that enhancing the macrophage autophagy-lysosomal system through genetic or pharmacological means could protect against atherosclerosis. We demonstrated that TFEB, a transcription factor master regulator of autophagy and lysosome biogenesis, coordinately enhances the function of this system to reduce atherosclerotic plaque burden. Further, we characterized the disaccharide trehalose as a novel inducer of TFEB with similar atheroprotective effects. Overall, these findings mechanistically interrogate the importance and therapeutic promise of a functional autophagy-lysosome degradation system in plaque macrophage biology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)724-726
Number of pages3
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 3 2018


  • Apoptosis
  • TFEB
  • atherosclerosis
  • autophagy
  • inflammation
  • lysosome
  • macrophage
  • p62
  • protein aggregation
  • trehalose


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