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Free Radic Biol Med. 2005 Jan 15;38(2):235-42.

Increased cyclooxygenase-2 expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of smokers and hyperlipidemic subjects.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology III, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 307, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


Cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 is expressed in macrophages of arteriosclerotic lesions and promotes inflammation. We investigated whether COX-2 is already expressed in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of subjects possessing risk-related factors, such as in smokers and hyperlipidemics. PBMCs were isolated from the venous blood of normolipidemic nonsmokers (NL-NSM; n = 15), normolipidemic smokers (NL-SM; n = 12), hyperlipidemic nonsmokers (HL-NSM; n = 10), and hyperlipidemic smokers (HL-SM; n = 10). RNA from PBMCs was used for RT-PCR. Plasma concentrations of oxidized low-density lipoproteins (oxLDL) were measured by ELISA, those of glutamate and cystine by HPLC. The results show that COX-2 expression in PBMCs was significantly increased in the groups with cardiovascular risk factors (NL-SM, HL-SM, HL-NSM) compared with NL-NSM. COX-2 expression in PBMCs was positively correlated with concentrations of total serum cholesterol, oxLDL, glutamate, or cystine. We suggest that the elevated COX-2 expression indicates a priming of PBMCs as a response to a systemic pro-oxidative and proinflammatory shift in subjects with cardiovascular risk factors, which might also contribute to growth and instability of arteriosclerotic lesions.

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