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Carcinogenesis. 1994 Feb;15(2):253-6.

Effect of lipids and aldehydes on gap-junctional intercellular communication between human smooth muscle cells.

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Department of Toxicology, Agricultural University Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Inhibition of intercellular communication is an important feature in the tumour promotion phase of a multistage carcinogenesis model. In atherosclerosis inhibition of cell-cell communication by atherogenic compounds, e.g., low density lipoproteins (LDL), also seems to be important. For testing atherogenic compounds we used an atherosclerosis relevant cell type, namely human smooth muscle cells. In order to investigate which part of the LDL particle would be involved in inhibition of metabolic co-operation between human smooth muscle cells in culture we tested several fatty acids and their breakdown products, namely aldehydes. Unsaturated C-18 fatty acids markedly influenced gap-junctional intercellular communication (GJIC), whereas saturated (C18:0, C16:0) and unsaturated fatty acids with > 20 carbon atoms did not inhibit GJIC. In the case of oleic and elaidic acid, orientation seemed important; however, after exposure to palmitoleic and palmitelaidic acid no differences were found. The most potent inhibitor of GJIC was linoleic acid, which inhibited GJIC by 75%. No correlation was found between degrees of unsaturation and ability to inhibit GJIC. Of the tested aldehydes, hexanal, propanal, butanal and 4-hydroxynonenal did significantly inhibit GJIC, while pentanal had no effect. Since modification of LDL was shown to be important in order for LDL to inhibit GJIC, these results show that fatty acids and their oxidative breakdown products may be of importance for the inhibition of GJIC by LDL.

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