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Diabetes. 2004 Dec;53(12):3217-25.

Hyperlipidemia in concert with hyperglycemia stimulates the proliferation of macrophages in atherosclerotic lesions: potential role of glucose-oxidized LDL.

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Department of Pathology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.


Hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia are important risk factors for diabetes-accelerated atherosclerosis. Macrophage proliferation has been implicated in the progression of atherosclerosis. We therefore investigated the effects of hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia on macrophage proliferation in murine atherosclerotic lesions and isolated primary macrophages. Hyperglycemic LDL receptor-deficient mice that were fed a cholesterol-free diet for 12 weeks did not have elevated cholesterol levels compared with nondiabetic mice, and there was no evidence of increased macrophage proliferation in atherosclerotic lesions. Moreover, elevated glucose levels did not increase proliferation of isolated mouse peritoneal macrophages. In contrast, hyperglycemic LDL receptor-deficient mice that were fed a cholesterol-rich diet showed increased cholesterol levels concomitant with macrophage proliferation in atherosclerotic lesions. Glucose promoted lipid and protein oxidation of LDL in vitro. Glucose-oxidized LDL resulted in phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase and protein kinase B/Akt and stimulated proliferation of isolated macrophages. The mitogenic effect of glucose-oxidized LDL was mediated by CD36 and by extracellular signal-regulated kinase activation induced by protein kinase C-dependent and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-dependent pathways. Thus, hyperglycemia is not sufficient to stimulate macrophage proliferation in lesions of atherosclerosis or in isolated macrophages. A combination of hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia, however, stimulates macrophage proliferation by a pathway that may involve the glucose-dependent oxidation of LDL.

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