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Exp Mol Pathol. 1991 Apr;54(2):144-58.

Lysosomal lipid accumulation in vascular smooth muscle cells.

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Department of Pathology, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27103.


Using an inverted culture technique, the accumulation of lipid within vascular smooth muscle cells incubated with lipid droplets was studied. Initially, lipid was found exclusively within cytoplasmic inclusions but, as accumulation continued, lysosomes became the predominant site of lipid storage. After 3 hr of incubation, 84% of lipid was within lysosomes. This lysosomal lipid accumulation produced a tripling of the average size of lysosomes and resulted in lysosomes with complex, multilobed shapes. In contrast, although the number of cytoplasmic inclusions increased with lipid loading, individual inclusions maintained a spherical shape and a consistent diameter of 1-1.3 microns. Concomitant with changes in cellular lipid storage, incubation with lipid droplets induced development of an anastomosing network of acid phosphatase-containing tubules which were spatially related to sites of lysosomal lipid accumulation. Thus lipid accumulation produced ultrastructural alterations in a number of metabolic compartments. Similar alterations in the intracellular compartmentalization of acquired lipid have been demonstrated in foam cells during atherogenesis and have been hypothesized to have profound effects on lipid metabolism and disease progression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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