Pharmacological control of phagocyte function: Inhibition of cholesterol accumulation

R. Paoletti, S. Bellosta, F. Bernini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Phagocytes play a major role in several diseases. In particular mononuclear phagocyte-derived foam cells have a prominent role in the development of the atherosclerotic lesions. Macrophages are present in all stages of atherogenesis: they internalize lipoproteins and accumulate cholesterol. Moreover, lipid-filled macrophages, by secreting extracellular matrix-degrading enzymes, may weaken rupture-prone atherosclerotic plaques, thus increasing the probability of precipitating atherosclerotic acute symptoms (i.e., myocardial infarction, angina, etc.). Therefore, control of cellular functions and cholesterol accumulation in macrophages represent pharmacological targets against atherosclerosis. In our laboratory we studied the effect of calcium antagonists on cellular cholesterol esterification in cultured macrophages. We also demonstrated that the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (vastatins) fluvastatin and simvastatin prevented cholesterol deposition in cultured human and murine macrophage by inhibiting modified LDL endocytosis. Interestingly, vastatin activity was more pronounced in cholesterol-loaded macrophages (i.e., foam cells) than in normal cells. In conclusion, in vitro pharmacological control of cholesterol accumulation in macrophages may be achieved with some calcium antagonists and vastatins independently of their effects on blood pressure or cholesterolemia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-329
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Publication statusPublished - Dec 15 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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