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Biochemistry. 2012 May 8;51(18):3767-75. doi: 10.1021/bi2017975. Epub 2012 Apr 25.

Oxidation of low-density lipoprotein by iron at lysosomal pH: implications for atherosclerosis.

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School of Biological Sciences and Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research, Hopkins Building, Whiteknights, University of Reading, Reading RG6 6UB, UK.


Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) has recently been shown to be oxidized by iron within the lysosomes of macrophages, and this is a novel potential mechanism for LDL oxidation in atherosclerosis. Our aim was to characterize the chemical and physical changes induced in LDL by iron at lysosomal pH and to investigate the effects of iron chelators and α-tocopherol on this process. LDL was oxidized by iron at pH 4.5 and 37 °C and its oxidation monitored by spectrophotometry and high-performance liquid chromatography. LDL was oxidized effectively by FeSO(4) (5-50 μM) and became highly aggregated at pH 4.5, but not at pH 7.4. The level of cholesteryl esters decreased, and after a pronounced lag, the level of 7-ketocholesterol increased greatly. The total level of hydroperoxides (measured by the triiodide assay) increased up to 24 h and then decreased only slowly. The lipid composition after 12 h at pH 4.5 and 37 °C was similar to that of LDL oxidized by copper at pH 7.4 and 4 °C, i.e., rich in hydroperoxides but low in oxysterols. Previously oxidized LDL aggregated rapidly and spontaneously at pH 4.5, but not at pH 7.4. Ferrous iron was much more effective than ferric iron at oxidizing LDL when added after the oxidation was already underway. The iron chelators diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid and, to a lesser extent, desferrioxamine inhibited LDL oxidation when added during its initial stages but were unable to prevent aggregation of LDL after it had been partially oxidized. Surprisingly, desferrioxamine increased the rate of LDL modification when added late in the oxidation process. α-Tocopherol enrichment of LDL initially increased the rate of oxidation of LDL but decreased it later. The presence of oxidized and highly aggregated lipid within lysosomes has the potential to perturb the function of these organelles and to promote atherosclerosis.

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