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J Cell Mol Med. 2010 Mar;14(3):608-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1582-4934.2009.00713.x. Epub 2009 Feb 20.

Small, dense HDL 3 particles attenuate apoptosis in endothelial cells: pivotal role of apolipoprotein A-I.

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Dyslipoproteinemia and Atherosclerosis Research Unit (UMR939), National Institute for Health and Medical Research (INSERM), Hôpital de la Pitié, Paris, France.


Plasma high-density lipoproteins (HDLs) protect endothelial cells against apoptosis induced by oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL). The specific component(s) of HDLs implicated in such cytoprotection remain(s) to be identified. Human microvascular endothelial cells (HMEC-1) were incubated with mildly oxLDL in the presence or absence of each of five physicochemically distinct HDL subpopulations fractionated from normolipidemic human plasma (n= 7) by isopycnic density gradient ultracentrifugation. All HDL subfractions protected HMEC-1 against oxLDL-induced primary apoptosis as revealed by nucleic acid staining, annexin V binding, quantitative DNA fragmentation, inhibition of caspase-3 activity and reduction of cytoplasmic release of cytochrome c and apoptosis-inducing factor. Small, dense HDL 3c displayed twofold superior intrinsic cytoprotective activity (as determined by mitochondrial dehydrogenase activity) relative to large, light HDL 2b on a per particle basis (P < 0.05). Equally, all HDL subfractions attenuated intracellular generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS); such anti-oxidative activity diminished from HDL 3c to HDL 2b. The HDL protein moiety, in which apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I) predominated, accounted for approximately 70% of HDL anti-apoptotic activity. Furthermore, HDL reconstituted with apoA-I, cholesterol and phospholipid potently protected HMEC-1 from apoptosis. By contrast, modification of the content of sphingosine-1-phosphate in HDL did not significantly alter cytoprotection. We conclude that small, dense, lipid-poor HDL 3 potently protects endothelial cells from primary apoptosis and intracellular ROS generation induced by mildly oxLDL, and that apoA-I is pivotal to such protection.

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