Defective catabolism of oxidized LDL by J774 murine macrophages

P. Roma, F. Bernini, R. Fogliatto, S. M. Bertulli, S. Negri, R. Fumagalli, A. L. Catapano

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In J774 murine macrophages, chemically oxidized LDL (OxLDL) and biologically oxidized LDL (BioOxLDL) have similar metabolic fates, characterized by a relatively poor degradation when compared with acetylated LDL (AcLDL), and a modest ability to activate acyl-CoA:cholesterol acyltransferase (ACAT) (850 and 754 pmol [14C]oleate/mg cell protein in OxLDL- and BioOxLDL-incubated cells, versus 425 and 7070 pmol [14C]cholesteryl oleate/mg cell protein in control and AcLDL-incubated cells) with a massive increase of cellular free cholesterol. Therefore, OxLDL were used to investigate the cellular processing of oxidatively modified LDL. Binding and fluorescence microscopy studies demonstrated that OxLDL are effectively bound and internalized by macrophages and accumulate in organelles with density properties similar to those of endo/lysosomes. Although the overall metabolism of OxLDL is modestly affected by 100 μM chloroquine, owing to the poor cellular degradation of the substrate, the drug can further depress OxLDL degradation, indicating that this process takes place in an acidic compartment. Failure to detect products of extensive degradation of OxLDL in the medium is due to their relative resistance to enzymatic hydrolysis, as demonstrated also by in vitro experiments with partially purified lysosomal enzymes, rather than to the intracellular accumulation of degradation products (degraded intracellular protein is, at most, 8.5% of total). This sluggish degradation process is not due to a cytotoxic effect since OxLDL do not affect the intracellular processing of other ligands like AcLDL or IgG. The accumulation of OxLDL-derived products within macrophages may elicit cellular responses, the relevance of which in the atherosclerotic process remains to be addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)819-829
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Lipid Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1992


  • ACAT
  • acetylated LDL

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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