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J Atheroscler Thromb. 2014;21(8):839-53. Epub 2014 Apr 8.

Lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 regulates macrophage apoptosis via the Akt and caspase-7 pathways.

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Division of Molecular Medical Biochemistry, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Shiga University of Medical Science.



Mutations in lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2) are related to atherosclerosis. However, the molecular effects of Lp-PLA2 on atherosclerosis have not been fully investigated. Therefore, this study attempted to elucidate this issue.


Monocytes were isolated from randomly selected healthy male volunteers according to each Lp-PLA2 genotype (wild-type Lp-PLA2 [Lp-PLA2 (V/V)], the heterozygous V279F mutation [LpPLA2 (V/F)] and the homozygous V279F mutation [Lp-PLA2 (F/F)]) and differentiated into macrophages. The level of apoptosis in the macrophages following incubation without serum was measured using the annexin V/propidium iodide double staining method, and the underlying mechanisms were further examined using a culture cell line.


The average plasma Lp-PLA2 concentration [Lp-PLA2 (V/V): 129.4 ng/mL, Lp-PLA2 (V/F): 70.7 ng/mL, Lp-PLA2 (F/F): 0.4 ng/mL] and activity [Lp-PLA2 (V/V): 164.3 nmol/min/mL, LpPLA2 (V/F): 100.9 nmol/min/mL, Lp-PLA2 (F/F): 11.6 nmol/min/mL] were significantly different between each genotype, although the basic clinical characteristics were similar. The percentage of apoptotic cells was significantly higher among the Lp-PLA2 (F/F) macrophages compared with that observed in the Lp-PLA2 (V/V) macrophages. This induction of apoptosis was independent of the actions of acetylated low-density lipoproteins. In addition, the transfection of the expression plasmid of V279F mutant Lp-PLA2 into Cos-7 cells or monocyte/macrophage-like U937 cells promoted apoptosis. The knockdown of Lp-PLA2 also increased the number of apoptotic cells. Among the cells expressing mutant Lp-PLA2, the caspase-7 activity was increased, while the activated Akt level was decreased.


The V279F mutation of Lp-PLA2 positively regulates the induction of apoptosis in macrophages and Cos-7 cells. An increase in the caspase-7 activity and a reduction in the activated Akt level are likely to be involved in this phenomenon.

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