Abstract

The incidence of atherosclerosis (AS), a major contributor to cardiovascular disease, is steadily rising along with an increasingly older population worldwide. Pyroptosis, a form of inflammatory programmed cell death, determines the release of pro-inflammatory mediators by endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells, and atheroma-associated macrophages and foam cells, thereby playing a critical role in AS progression. Canonical pyroptosis is mediated by inflammasome formation, activation of caspase-1, and maturation and release of proinflammatory cytokines. Electrical stimulation (ES) is a noninvasive, safe therapy that has been shown to alleviate symptoms in several health conditions. Here, we investigated the anti-inflammatory and anti-pyroptotic effects of ES in human THP-1 macrophages treated with the dipeptidyl peptidase inhibitor Val-boroPro (VbP). We found that ES downregulated NOD-like receptor family protein 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome, ASC, and caspase-1 expression and abrogated the release of Interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and Interleukin-18 (IL-18), indicating effective pyroptosis inhibition. These changes were paralleled by a reduction in reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, reversal of VbP-induced sirtuin3 (Sirt3) downregulation, deacetylation of ATG5, and induction of autophagy. These findings suggest that ES may be a viable strategy to counteract pyroptosis-mediated inflammation in AS by raising Sirt3 to promote autophagy and inhibit ROS generation.