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Phytosterols decrease prostaglandin release in cultured P388D1/MAB macrophages.

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Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, University of Buffalo, 15 Farber Hall, 3435 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14214, USA.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the leading cause of death in Western societies. Atherosclerosis is a major cardiovascular related disorder that is responsible for 50% of all mortality in the United States. Several epidemiological studies suggest that consumption of a plant-based diet is associated with a decreased incidence of cardiovascular abnormalities. Phytosterols, especially beta-sitosterol, are plant sterols that have been shown to exert protective effects against cardiovascular diseases as well as many types of cancer. Monocyte/macrophage cells are involved with the inflammatory process. Accumulation of these cells in arteries is one of the initial events leading to atherosclerosis. Macrophages are capable of supplying the atherosclerotic vessel with substantial amounts of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins have been shown by numerous studies to play a key role in the atherosclerosis process. They can affect platelet aggregation, vasodilation or constriction of blood vessels, and the adherence of monocytes to the vessel walls. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of phytosterols on the release of PGE(2) and PGI(2) from lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated P388D(1)/MAB macrophage cells. P388D(1)/MAB cells were supplemented with 16 microM cholesterol, beta-sitosterol or campesterol using cyclodextrin as a vehicle. Phytosterol supplementation led to a significant decrease in cellular growth at various time points throughout a 7-day treatment period, especially after 3 days of treatment. Macrophages incorporated the supplemented phytosterols into their membranes which accounted for 26% of total membrane sterols. Cholesterol supplementation at 16 microM however, had no effect on membrane sterols. Supplementation with 16 microM concentration of beta-sitosterol or campesterol resulted in a significant inhibition of PGE(2) and PGI(2) release from macrophage cells as compared to the vehicle control. Of the two phytosterols, beta-sitosterol supplementation exhibited a greater inhibitory effect. PGE(2) release was decreased 68% by beta-sitosterol and 55% by campesterol, while cholesterol supplementation was not as effective, as it led to a 37% decrease. Similarly, release of PGI(2) from macrophages was inhibited 67% by beta-sitosterol and 52% by campesterol treatment, while enrichment of the cells with cholesterol, led to a 35% decrease in PGI(2) release. The decrease in prostaglandin release was not due to alteration in the expression of cPLA(2) and COX-2 enzymes which suggests that alterations in the activities of these enzymes may be responsible for the observed changes in prostaglandin release. It was concluded that phytosterol incorporation into macrophages may offer protection from atherosclerosis by reducing their prostaglandin release and thus slowing down the atheroma development.

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