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    Atherosclerotic artery disease is the major cause of death and an immense burden on healthcare systems worldwide. The formation of atherosclerotic plaques is promoted by high levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) in the blood, especially in the oxidized form. Circulating LDL is taken up by conventional and non-classical endothelial cell receptors and deposited in the vessel wall. The exact mechanism of LDL interaction with vascular endothelial cells is not fully understood. Moreover, it appears to depend on the type and location of the vessel affected and the receptor involved. Here, we analyze how native LDL (nLDL) and oxidized LDL (oxLDL) modulate the expression of their receptors-classical LDLR and alternative LOX-1-in endothelial cells derived from human umbilical artery (HUAECs), used as an example of a medium-sized vessel, which is typically affected by atherosclerosis. Exposure of HUAECs to nLDL resulted in moderate nLDL uptake and gradual increase in LDLR, but not LOX-1, expression over 24 h. Conversely, exposure of HUAECs to oxLDL, led to significant accumulation of oxLDL and rapid induction of LOX-1, but not LDLR, within 7 h. These activation processes were associated with phosphorylation of protein kinases ERK1/2 and p38, followed by activation of the transcription factor AP-1 and its binding to the promoters of the respective receptor genes. Both nLDL-induced LDLR mRNA expression and oxLDL-induced LOX-1 mRNA expression were abolished by blocking ERK1/2, p-38 or AP-1. In addition, oxLDL, but not nLDL, was capable of inducing LOX-1 through the NF-κB-controlled pathway. These observations indicate that in arterial endothelial cells nLDL and oxLDL signal mainly via LDLR and LOX-1 receptors, respectively, and engage ERK1/2 and p38 kinases, and AP-1, as well as NF-κB transcription factors to exert feed-forward regulation and increase the expression of these receptors, which may perpetuate endothelial dysfunction in atherosclerosis.


    Rusan Catar, Lei Chen, Hongfan Zhao, Dashan Wu, Julian Kamhieh-Milz, Christian Lücht, Daniel Zickler, Alexander W Krug, Christian G Ziegler, Henning Morawietz, Janusz Witowski. Native and Oxidized Low-Density Lipoproteins Increase the Expression of the LDL Receptor and the LOX-1 Receptor, Respectively, in Arterial Endothelial Cells. Cells. 2022 Jan 08;11(2)

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    PMID: 35053320

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