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J Lipid Res. 2002 Apr;43(4):618-28.

Triglyceride depletion in THP-1 cells alters cholesteryl ester physical state and cholesterol efflux.

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Department of Pathology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA.


To study macrophage lipid droplet composition and the effects of TG on cholesteryl ester (CE) physical state, hydrolysis, and cholesterol efflux, a technique was developed to remove the majority of accumulated TG with minimal effect on CE content. THP-1 macrophages were incubated with acetylated LDL, and the accumulated TG was depleted by incubation with the acyl-CoA synthetase inhibitor triacsin D in the presence of albumin. Before TG removal, all cellular lipid droplets were isotropic as determined by polarizing light microscopy. When the TG concentration was reduced, anisotropic lipid droplets were visible, indicating a change in physical state, and suggesting that TG and CE originally accumulated in mixed lipid droplets. This change in physical state of lipid droplets was associated with slower rates of CE hydrolysis and cholesterol efflux. Although lipid droplets within the same cell had a similar physical state after TG depletion, there was considerable variability among cells in the physical state of their lipid droplets. In conclusion, THP-1 macrophages store accumulated CE and TG in mixed droplets, and the proportion of CE to TG varies among cells. Reducing accumulated TG altered CE physical state, which in turn affected hydrolysis of CE and cholesterol efflux.

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