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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1998 Apr;18(4):626-30.

Lysophosphatidylcholine is involved in the antigenicity of oxidized LDL.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.


Lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) is formed by hydrolysis of PC in low density lipoprotein (LDL) and cell membranes by phospholipase A2 or by oxidation. Oxidized (ox) LDL activates endothelial cells, an effect mimicked by LPC. oxLDL also has the capacity to activate T and B cells, and antibody titers to oxLDL are related to the degree of atherosclerosis. The antigen in oxLDL responsible for its immune-stimulatory capacity is not well characterized, and we hypothesized that LPC was involved. We demonstrate herein the presence of antibodies against LPC, both of the IgG and IgM isotype, in 210 healthy individuals. This antibody reactivity was not specifically related to oxidation of the fatty acid moiety in LPC, since LPC containing only palmitic acid showed antibody titers equivalent to those of LPC containing unsaturated fatty acids. Antibody titers to PC were low compared with LPC, and hydrolysis of PC at the sn-2 position is thus essential for immune reactivity. There was a close correlation between anti-oxLDL and anti-LPC antibodies. Furthermore, LPC competitively inhibited anti-oxLDL reactivity, which indicates that LPC may explain a significant part of the immune-stimulatory properties of oxLDL. LPC, being a lipid, is not likely to be an antigen itself. Instead, LPC could form immunogenic complexes with peptides, which may induce and potentiate immune reactions in the vessel wall. This study adds to the evidence that LPC is an important component of oxLDL and emphasizes the potential role of phospholipase A2 in atherosclerosis.

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