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Atherosclerosis. 1988 Jul;72(1):19-27.

Generation of reactive oxygen metabolites by phagocytosing endothelial cells.

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Thrombosis Research Unit, King's College School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, U.K.


We have studied the ability of particulate stimuli to induce the release of reactive oxygen metabolites from sub-cultured monolayers of human endothelial cells. Basal release of superoxide (O2-) and hydrogen peroxide from undisturbed monolayers was very low (108 pmol O2- and 75 pmol H2O2 in 3 h from dishes of 3 X 10(5) cells). Addition of 1-micron diameter polystyrene microspheres, which were phagocytosed by the cells progressively, caused a dramatic increase in release of both metabolites; by 3 h, a 13.5- and 6.6-fold increase over controls was observed respectively (P less than 0.001). Addition of formaldehyde-fixed human platelets or chylomicron-size lipid particles also increased production of reactive oxygen species. Similar rises in H2O2 and O2- production were induced by treatment with 10(-7) M phorbol myristate acetate. Pretreatment of endothelial cells with neuraminidase, heparinase or heparitinase to alter their glycocalyx composition substantially enhanced the effect of microspheres on H2O2 and O2- generation. We conclude that the interactions of particles, including platelets and lipids, with endothelial cells leads to the generation of significant pericellular levels of reactive oxygen species. These metabolites can oxidise a wide variety of nearby molecules, leading to cell damage and altered uptake characteristics for lipoproteins containing peroxidized lipids. These effects are exacerbated when endothelial cell glycocalyx composition is disrupted.

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