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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1985 Jan;82(2):416-20.

Unmodified low density lipoprotein causes cholesteryl ester accumulation in J774 macrophages.


Cholesteryl ester (CE)-loaded macrophages (foam cells) are a prominent feature of atherosclerotic plaques. Previous studies have shown that human monocytes or resident mouse peritoneal macrophages accumulate CE in response to low density lipoprotein (LDL) only when the LDL has been appropriately chemically modified. By contrast, we report here that J774 macrophages accumulate large amounts of CE when incubated with unmodified LDL. The CE is stored in oil red O-positive droplets, which have the typical appearance of foam cell inclusions by electron microscopy. The fatty acid moieties of the cellular CE are enriched in oleate unlike those of LDL-CE, which are enriched in linoleate, indicating that the LDL-CE undergoes hydrolysis and reesterification by acyl CoA:cholesterol acyltransferase. Studies with 125I-labeled LDL at both 4 degrees C and 37 degrees C indicate that the LDL is internalized by a specific receptor that has several characteristics in common with the apolipoprotein B/E (apo B/E) receptor. However, in comparison with fibroblasts, the LDL receptor and 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase activity in J774 cells are relatively resistant to down-regulation by LDL or 25-hydroxycholesterol, leading to receptor-mediated CE storage. In addition, J774 cells appear to accumulate CE from LDL internalized by nonspecific means. Thus, macrophage-like cells can accumulate CE in response to unmodified LDL by both nonspecific and receptor-mediated processes.

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