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Clin Lipidol. 2010 Dec 1;5(6):853-865.

Lysosomes, cholesterol and atherosclerosis.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, U-2206 Medical Center North Vanderbilt University School of Medicine 1161 21st Avenue, South Nashville, TN 37232-32561, USA, Tel.: +1 615 322 5530.


Cholesterol-engorged macrophage foam cells are a critical component of the atherosclerotic lesion. Reducing the sterol deposits in lesions reduces clinical events. Sterol accumulations within lysosomes have proven to be particularly hard to mobilize out of foam cells. Moreover, excess sterol accumulation in lysosomes has untoward effects, including a complete disruption of lysosome function. Recently, we demonstrated that treatment of sterol-engorged macrophages in culture with triglyceride-containing particles can reverse many of the effects of cholesterol on lysosomes and dramatically reduce the sterol burden in these cells. This article describes what is known about lysosomal sterol engorgement, discusses the possible mechanisms by which triglyceride could produce its effects, and evaluates the possible positive and negative effects of reducing the lysosomal cholesterol levels in foam cells.

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