Adventitial Cell Atlas of wt (Wild Type) and ApoE (Apolipoprotein E)-Deficient Mice Defined by Single-Cell RNA Sequencing

Wenduo Gu, Zhichao Ni, Yuan Qing Tan, Jiacheng Deng, Si Jin Zhang, Zi Chao Lv, Xiao Jian Wang, Ting Chen, Zhongyi Zhang, Yanhua Hu, Zhi Cheng Jing, Qingbo Xu

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Objective- Vascular adventitia encompasses progenitors and is getting recognized as the major site of inflammation in early stage of atherosclerosis. However, the cellular atlas of the heterogeneous adventitial cells, the intercellular communication, the cellular response of adventitia to hyperlipidemia, and its contribution to atherosclerosis have been elusive. 

Approach and Results- Single-cell RNA sequencing was applied to wt (wild type) and ApoE (apolipoprotein E)-deficient aortic adventitia from 12-week-old C57BL/6J mice fed on normal laboratory diet with early stage of atherosclerosis. Unbiased clustering analysis revealed that the landscape of adventitial cells encompassed adventitial mesenchyme cells, immune cells (macrophages, T cells, and B cells), and some types of rare cells, for example, neuron, lymphatic endothelial cells, and innate lymphoid cells. Seurat clustering analysis singled out 6 nonimmune clusters with distinct transcriptomic profiles, in which there predominantly were stem/progenitor cell-like and proinflammatory population (Mesen II). In ApoE-deficient adventitia, resident macrophages were activated and related to increased myeloid cell infiltration in the adventitia. Cell communication analysis further elucidated enhanced interaction between a mesenchyme cluster and inflammatory macrophages in ApoE-deficient adventitia. In vitro transwell assay confirmed the proinflammatory role of SCA1+ (stem cell antigen 1 positive) Mesen II population with increased CCL2 (chemokine [C-C motif] ligand 2) secretion and thus increased capacity to attract immune cells in ApoE-deficient adventitia. 

Conclusions- Cell atlas defined by single-cell RNA sequencing depicted the heterogeneous cellular landscape of the adventitia and uncovered several types of cell populations. Furthermore, resident cell interaction with immune cells appears crucial at the early stage of atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1055-1071
Number of pages17
JournalArteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
Issue number6
Early online date4 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • adventitia
  • animals
  • atherosclerosis
  • mice
  • stem cells


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