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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2008 Oct;1781(10):643-54. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2008.07.005. Epub 2008 Aug 5.

Inhibition of carboxylesterase 1 is associated with cholesteryl ester retention in human THP-1 monocyte/macrophages.

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  • 1Department of Basic Sciences, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762-6100, USA.


Cholesteryl esters are hydrolyzed by cholesteryl ester hydrolase (CEH) yielding free cholesterol for export from macrophages. Hence, CEH has an important regulatory role in macrophage reverse cholesterol transport (RCT). CEH and human carboxylesterase 1 (CES1) appear to be the same enzyme. CES1 is inhibited by oxons, the bioactive metabolites of organophosphate (OP) pesticides. Here, we show that CES1 protein is robustly expressed in human THP-1 monocytes/macrophages and its biochemical activity inhibited following treatment of cell lysates and intact cells with chlorpyrifos oxon, paraoxon, or methyl paraoxon (with nanomolar IC(50) values) or after immunodepletion of CES1 protein. CES1 protein expression in cells is unaffected by a 24-h paraoxon treatment, suggesting that the reduced hydrolytic activity is due to covalent inhibition of CES1 by oxons and not down-regulation of expression. Most significantly, treatment of cholesterol-loaded macrophages with either paraoxon (a non-specific CES inhibitor) or benzil (a specific CES inhibitor) caused enhanced retention of intracellular cholesteryl esters and a "foamy" phenotype, consistent with reduced cholesteryl ester mobilization. Thus, exposure to OP pesticides, which results in the inhibition of CES1, may also inhibit macrophage RCT, an important process in the regression of atherosclerosis.

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