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J Nutr Biochem. 2001 Oct;12(10):602-607.

Changes in the phospholipid composition of the arterial cell can result in severe atherosclerotic lesions.

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The Burnsides Research Laboratory, University of Illinois, 61801, Urbana, IL, USA


The oxysterol concentration in the plasma and the phospholipid composition of vascular tissue obtained by coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) were compared with plasma and vascular tissue from age and sex matched controls. The plasma from CABG patients had a higher concentration of oxysterols than was present in the controls. Human endothelial cells were cultured for 72 hours in a medium containing plasma obtained from CABG patients, from controls or from the same controls to which 5 oxysterols were added to make the total oxysterol level equivalent to that in the CABG plasma and then pulsed with calcium (45Ca(2+)) for one hr. A significantly higher influx of 45Ca(2+) was noted in the endothelial cells cultured in the plasma obtained from CABG patients and from the controls with 5 added oxysterols, but not in those cultured without added oxysterols indicating that oxysterols increased calcium influx into endothelial cells. A phospholipid analysis indicated that the arterial tissue from CABG patients had 48.2% sphingomyelin in its phospholipid fraction compared to 10% in arterial tissue from umbilical cords. The saphenous vein obtained during CABG surgery from the same patient had only 24% sphingomyelin in its phospholipid fraction and unlike the coronary arteries had no atherosclerotic lesions. The higher level of oxysterol in the plasma of patients suffering from severe atherosclerosis could increase the concentration of sphingomyelin in the arterial cell membrane and thereby increase calcium influx required for producing the calcific type VII lesions in the coronary arteries.


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