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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Jun 15, 1991; 88(12): 5252–5256.
PMCID: PMC51850

Expression of monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 in macrophage-rich areas of human and rabbit atherosclerotic lesions.

Abstract

The recruitment of monocyte-macrophages into the artery wall is one of the earliest events in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. Monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1) is a potent monocyte chemoattractant secreted by many cells in vitro, including vascular smooth muscle and endothelial cells. To test whether it is expressed in the artery in vivo, we used Northern blot analysis, in situ hybridization, and immunocytochemistry to study the expression of MCP-1 in normal and atherosclerotic human and rabbit arteries. Northern blot analysis showed that MCP-1 mRNA could be isolated from rabbit atherosclerotic lesions but not from the intima media of normal animals. Furthermore, MCP-1 mRNA was extracted from macrophage-derived foam cells isolated from arterial lesions of ballooned cholesterol-fed rabbits, whereas alveolar macrophages isolated simultaneously from the same rabbits did not express MCP-1 mRNA. MCP-1 mRNA was detected by in situ hybridization in macrophage-rich regions of both human and rabbit atherosclerotic lesions. No MCP-1 mRNA was found in sublesional medial smooth muscle cells or in normal arteries. By using immunocytochemistry, MCP-1 protein was demonstrated in human lesions, again only in macrophage-rich regions. Immunostaining of the serial sections with an antiserum against malondialdehyde-modified low density lipoprotein indicated the presence of oxidized low density lipoprotein indicated the presence of oxidized low density lipoprotein and/or other oxidation-specific lipid-protein adducts in the same areas that contained macrophages and MCP-1. We conclude that (i) MCP-1 is strongly expressed in a small subset of cells in macrophage-rich regions of human and rabbit atherosclerotic lesions and (ii) MCP-1 may, therefore, play an important role in the ongoing recruitment of monocyte-macrophages into developing lesions in vivo.

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