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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1998 Dec;18(12):1972-82.

Immunization of LDL receptor-deficient mice with homologous malondialdehyde-modified and native LDL reduces progression of atherosclerosis by mechanisms other than induction of high titers of antibodies to oxidative neoepitopes.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.


We and others previously showed that immunization of rabbits with different forms of oxidized low density lipoprotein (LDL) significantly reduced atherogenesis. We now investigated the effect of continued immunization on atherosclerosis in LDL receptor-deficient (LDLR-/-) mice to determine whether a similar reduction of atherosclerosis occurred in murine models and whether this was due to humoral immune responses, ie, formation of high titers of antibodies to oxidation-specific epitopes. Three groups of LDLR-/- mice were repeatedly immunized with homologous malondialdehyde-modified LDL (MDA-LDL), native LDL, or phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) for 7 weeks. Extensive hypercholesterolemia and accelerated atherogenesis were then induced by feeding a cholesterol-rich diet for 17 weeks, during which immunizations were continued. Binding of immunoglobulin (Ig) M and IgG antibodies, as well as IgG1 and IgG2a isotypes, to several epitopes of oxidized LDL were followed throughout the study. After 24 weeks of intervention, atherosclerosis in the aortic origin was significantly reduced by 46.3% and 36.9% in mice immunized with MDA-LDL and native LDL, respectively, compared with PBS (133 558 and 157 141 versus 248 867 microm2 per section, respectively). However, the humoral immune response to oxidative neoepitopes in the MDA-LDL group was very different from that of the LDL or PBS group. IgG antibody binding to MDA-LDL and other epitopes of oxidized LDL, such as oxidized phospholipid (cardiolipin), oxidized cholesterol, or oxidized cholesteryl linoleate, but not native LDL, increased markedly in mice immunized with MDA-LDL, but not in mice immunized with native LDL or PBS. In the MDA-LDL group, both T helper cell (Th)2-dependent IgG1 antibody and Th1-dependent IgG2a antibody binding to oxidative neoepitopes increased significantly over time. The fact that mice immunized with both MDA-LDL and native LDL had a significant reduction in atherosclerosis, whereas only the MDA-LDL group developed very high titers of antibodies to oxidation-specific epitopes, suggests that the antiatherogenic effect of immunization is not primarily dependent on very high titers of antibodies to oxidation-specific epitopes but is more likely to result from the activation of cellular immune responses.

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