Objective: High levels of soluble CD40 ligand (sCD40L) in the circulation have been suggested as an important indicator of cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis and acute coronary syndromes. In the present study, we explored the role of sCD40L in the formation of foam cells. Methods: Lipid deposition and foam cell formation was measured by high-performance liquid chromatography and Nile Red staining, respectively. Gene expressions were detected by quantitative real-time PCR and Western blot analysis. The interaction between CD40 and sCD40L were blocked by CD40 small interfering RNA or anti-CD40 antibody. Results: sCD40L significantly increased lipid deposition and foam cell formation associated with upregulation of scavenger receptor type A and CD36. Additionally, sCD40L increased adipocyte enhancer-binding protein 1 and cholesterol efflux, and activated NF-κB in macrophages. sCD40L promoted foam cell formation via CD40 ligation and disruption of the ligation between CD40 and CD40L either by small interfering RNA or by a blocking anti-CD40 antibody apparently inhibiting foam cell formation in response to sCD40L. Conclusion: Our data suggests a novel insight into the role of sCD40L in foam cell formation during atherosclerosis, which further confirms the importance of sCD40L in atherosclerosis and as a target for the treatment of this disease.

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