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Blood. 2002 May 15;99(10):3613-22.

Platelet factor 4 binds to low-density lipoprotein receptors and disrupts the endocytic machinery, resulting in retention of low-density lipoprotein on the cell surface.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104, USA.


The influence of platelets on the cellular metabolism of atherogenic lipoproteins has not been characterized in detail. Therefore, we investigated the effect of platelet factor 4 (PF4), a cationic protein released in high concentration by activated platelets, on the uptake and degradation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) via the LDL receptor (LDL-R). LDL-R-dependent binding, internalization, and degradation of LDL by cultured cells were inhibited 50%, 80%, and 80%, respectively, on addition of PF4. PF4 bound specifically to the ligand-binding domain of recombinant soluble LDL-R (half-maximal binding 0.5 microg/mL PF4) and partially (approximately 50%) inhibited the binding of LDL. Inhibition of internalization and degradation by PF4 required the presence of cell-associated proteoglycans, primarily those rich in chondroitin sulfate. PF4 variants with impaired heparin binding lacked the capacity to inhibit LDL. PF4, soluble LDL-R, and LDL formed ternary complexes with cell-surface proteoglycans. PF4 induced the retention of LDL/LDL-R complexes on the surface of human fibroblasts in multimolecular clusters unassociated with coated pits, as assessed by immuno-electron microscopy. These studies demonstrate that PF4 inhibits the catabolism of LDL in vitro in part by competing for binding to LDL-R, by promoting interactions with cell-associated chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans, and by disrupting the normal endocytic trafficking of LDL/LDL-R complexes. Retention of LDL on cell surfaces may facilitate proatherogenic modifications and support an expanded role for platelets in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.

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