BACKGROUND:Despite robust cholesterol lowering, cardiovascular disease risk remains increased in patients with diabetes mellitus. Consistent with this, diabetes mellitus impairs atherosclerosis regression after cholesterol lowering in humans and mice. In mice, this is attributed in part to hyperglycemia-induced monocytosis, which increases monocyte entry into plaques despite cholesterol lowering. In addition, diabetes mellitus skews plaque macrophages toward an atherogenic inflammatory M1 phenotype instead of toward the atherosclerosis-resolving M2 state typical with cholesterol lowering. Functional high-density lipoprotein (HDL), typically low in patients with diabetes mellitus, reduces monocyte precursor proliferation in murine bone marrow and has anti-inflammatory effects on human and murine macrophages. Our study aimed to test whether raising functional HDL levels in diabetic mice prevents monocytosis, reduces the quantity and inflammation of plaque macrophages, and enhances atherosclerosis regression after cholesterol lowering. METHODS:Aortic arches containing plaques developed in Ldlr-/- mice were transplanted into either wild-type, diabetic wild-type, or diabetic mice transgenic for human apolipoprotein AI, which have elevated functional HDL. Recipient mice all had low levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol to promote plaque regression. After 2 weeks, plaques in recipient mouse aortic grafts were examined. RESULTS:Diabetic wild-type mice had impaired atherosclerosis regression, which was normalized by raising HDL levels. This benefit was linked to suppressed hyperglycemia-driven myelopoiesis, monocytosis, and neutrophilia. Increased HDL improved cholesterol efflux from bone marrow progenitors, suppressing their proliferation and monocyte and neutrophil production capacity. In addition to reducing circulating monocytes available for recruitment into plaques, in the diabetic milieu, HDL suppressed the general recruitability of monocytes to inflammatory sites and promoted plaque macrophage polarization to the M2, atherosclerosis-resolving state. There was also a decrease in plaque neutrophil extracellular traps, which are atherogenic and increased by diabetes mellitus. CONCLUSIONS:Raising apolipoprotein AI and functional levels of HDL promotes multiple favorable changes in the production of monocytes and neutrophils and in the inflammatory environment of atherosclerotic plaques of diabetic mice after cholesterol lowering and may represent a novel approach to reduce cardiovascular disease risk in people with diabetes mellitus.