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J Nutr. 2003 Nov;133(11):3588-91.

Hyperhomocysteinemic subjects have enhanced expression of lectin-like oxidized LDL receptor-1 in mononuclear cells.

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The Lipid Clinic, Medical Department, Rikshospitalet University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.


An elevated plasma concentration of homocysteine is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. However, the mechanisms are still unclear. Lectin-like oxidized LDL receptor-1 (LOX-1) has ligand specificity for oxidized LDL (oxLDL). We hypothesized that homocysteine's atherogenic effects may involve LOX-1-mediated mechanisms. We examined the effect of folic acid supplementation for 6 wk and 12 mo (5 mg/d for 1 wk, 1 mg/d for 37 wk and 0.4 mg/d for the remaining 14 wk) on LOX-1 mRNA levels and on oxLDL-induced release of tumor necrosis factor alpha from peripheral blood mononuclear cells in hyperhomocysteinemic individuals. Compared with healthy controls, hyperhomocysteinemic subjects had elevated mRNA levels of LOX-1 in mononuclear cells (P < 0.001), and their mononuclear cells released more tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) upon oxLDL stimulation (P = 0.01). This oxLDL-stimulated release of TNFalpha correlated with LOX-1 expression (r = 0.57, P = 0.026). Folic acid treatment led to a normalization of homocysteine levels accompanied by a reduction in LOX-1 gene expression (P < 0.02) and in oxLDL-stimulated release of TNFalpha (P < 0.05). These novel findings suggest both that homocysteine exerts its atherogenic effect in part by elevating levels of LOX-1, thereby enhancing oxLDL-induced inflammatory responses, and most important, that folic acid supplementation may downregulate these responses.

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