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Cell. 1998 Apr 17;93(2):241-52.

PPARgamma promotes monocyte/macrophage differentiation and uptake of oxidized LDL.

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The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


The formation of foam cells from macrophages in the arterial wall is characterized by dramatic changes in lipid metabolism, including increased expression of scavenger receptors and the uptake of oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL). We demonstrate here that the nuclear receptor PPARgamma is induced in human monocytes following exposure to oxLDL and is expressed at high levels in the foam cells of atherosclerotic lesions. Ligand activation of the PPARgamma:RXRalpha heterodimer in myelomonocytic cell lines induces changes characteristic of monocytic differentiation and promotes uptake of oxLDL through transcriptional induction of the scavenger receptor CD36. These results reveal a novel signaling pathway controlling differentiation and lipid metabolism in monocytic cells, and suggest that endogenous PPARgamma ligands may be important regulators of gene expression during atherogenesis.

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