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Circulation. 2001 Feb 27;103(8):1142-7.

Evidence of macrophage foam cell formation by very low-density lipoprotein receptor: interferon-gamma inhibition of very low-density lipoprotein receptor expression and foam cell formation in macrophages.

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Third Department of Internal Medicine, Fukui Medical University, Fukui, Japan.



Expression of the VLDL receptor, primarily in macrophages, has been confirmed in human and rabbit atherosclerotic lesions. The high binding affinity of the VLDL receptor for remnant particles implicates the VLDL receptor pathway in the foam cell formation mechanism in macrophages. This study investigates the effect of interferon (IFN)-gamma on VLDL receptor expression in phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate (PMA)-treated THP-1, HL-60 macrophages, and human monocyte-derived macrophages.


THP-1 cells were induced to differentiate into macrophages by PMA treatment. IFN-gamma was added to the medium, and expression of the VLDL receptor was determined. (125)I-beta-VLDL degradation study and oil red O staining were examined. In THP-1 macrophages, VLDL receptor protein expression decreased at 2 days after PMA treatment but increased at 3 days and increased up to 5 days. Scavenger receptor proteins, which were not originally present, appeared at 3 days after PMA treatment. IFN-gamma inhibited VLDL receptor expression in a dose-and time-dependent manner in macrophages. However, no inhibitory effect was observed in monocytes. Moreover, IFN-gamma receptor mRNA increased during differentiation to macrophages. (125)I-beta-VLDL degradation study and oil red O staining showed that IFN-gamma significantly inhibited foam cell formation after the uptake of beta-VLDL. LDL receptor-related protein (LRP) and LDL receptor mRNAs were not expressed in macrophages. In PMA-treated HL-60 macrophages and human monocyte-derived macrophages, IFN-gamma also inhibited VLDL receptor expression and foam cell formation by beta-VLDL.


VLDL receptor expression is upregulated during monocyte-macrophage differentiation. IFN-gamma inhibits VLDL receptor expression and foam cell formation only in macrophages. Remnant particles induce macrophage foam cell formation through the VLDL receptor pathway.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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