Oxidized LDL Stimulates Matrix Metalloproteinase-1 Expression in Human Vascular Endothelial Cells
Abstract—It has been well documented that acute myocardial infarction is triggered by disruption of atherosclerotic plaques. Immunocytochemistry studies have shown that matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1) is specifically expressed by cells present in atherosclerotic plaques, including luminal and neovascular endothelial cells. Since MMP-1 degrades type I collagen, a major type of collagen in atherosclerotic lesions, it is likely that MMP-1 is involved in promoting destabilization of plaques. To date, however, the stimulatory factors that induce MMP-1 expression in endothelial cells have not been well defined. In the present study, we found that oxidized low density lipoprotein (LDL) stimulated MMP-1 release from both human umbilical vein and aortic endothelial cells. We also found that oxidized LDL markedly stimulated MMP-1 expression in these cells and that the degree of LDL oxidation was positively correlated with the level of MMP-1 mRNA expression. Furthermore, our data showed that stimulated MMP-1 secretion was inhibited by actinomycin D and that the nascent MMP-1 mRNA synthesis was stimulated by oxidized LDL, indicating that oxidized LDL activated transcription of the MMP-1 gene. Finally, both zymography and activity assays demonstrated that collagenase activity in conditioned medium was stimulated by oxidized LDL. Taken together, these results have shown for the first time that oxidized LDL stimulates MMP-1 transcription and secretion by vascular endothelial cells, suggesting that oxidized LDL may be a potent stimulator for MMP-1 expression in atherosclerotic plaques, thus promoting plaque rupture.
- Received October 12, 1998.
- Accepted March 30, 1999.
Acute myocardial infarction (AMI) is the leading cause of death in the United States. Most patients before experiencing an AMI episode have advanced coronary atherosclerosis, and the acute episode of MI is triggered by disruption of atherosclerotic plaques with superimposed thrombosis.1 It has been demonstrated by pathological studies that the composition of the plaque, rather than its size or the severity of stenosis, is the most important determinant for plaque disruption and development of the thrombus-mediated AMI.2 A vulnerable plaque is characterized by a thin fibrous cap and a large lipid core.3 Recent studies have suggested that matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) may contribute to the vulnerability of atherosclerotic plaques by degrading the components of the fibrous cap: collagens, elastin, fibronectin, and proteoglycans.3 Immunocytochemistry studies have demonstrated that MMP-1, MMP-9, and MMP-3 are expressed by cells present in atheromas, including luminal and neovascular endothelial cells, macrophages, and smooth muscle cells, but not by cells present in the walls of normal arteries.4 Studies including in situ zymography and enzymatic activity assays showed a significantly enhanced collagenase activity in atherosclerotic plaques.4
The expression of MMP-1 in atherosclerotic lesions warrants special attention, because this enzyme is involved in the initial cleavage of collagens, mainly type I collagen. Type I collagen is the predominant protein in atherosclerotic plaques that confers strength to the fibrous cap. MMP-1 is also the only enzyme able to initiate the degradation of collagen at neutral pH. It has been postulated that the expression of MMP-1 in atherosclerotic plaques is induced by inflammatory cytokines, such as interferon (IFN)-γ, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, and interleukin (IL)-1β, because these cytokines have been found in atherosclerotic plaques.4 However, no data are available regarding the effect of cytokines on MMP-1 expression in endothelial cells. In vitro studies showed that TNF-α, IL-1β, and IFN-γ had no effect on MMP-1 secretion from human monocyte–derived macrophages.5 A single report is available showing that TNF-α and IL-1β stimulated MMP-1 expression in human smooth muscle cells.6 Therefore, it appears that the stimulatory factors responsible for MMP-1 expression in endothelial cells and macrophages still remain unknown. Owing to the complexity of the arteriosclerotic process,1 it is very likely that factors other than inflammatory cytokines may play a role in the induction of MMP-1 expression in atherosclerotic plaques.
A large body of evidence has shown that oxidized LDL plays a key role in the multifaceted process of atherosclerosis, such as endothelial injury, adhesion molecule expression, leukocyte recruitment and retention, as well as foam cell and thrombus formation.7 In the present study, we have investigated whether or not oxidized LDL induces MMP-1 expression in human vascular endothelial cells. We found that oxidized LDL increased MMP-1 secretion from both umbilical vein and aortic endothelial cells and that this increased secretion of MMP-1 was due to an activation of MMP-1 gene transcription. Furthermore, we also observed a marked increase in collagenase activity in the medium conditioned by oxidized LDL–stimulated cells. This in vitro study complements the previous immunocytochemistry study showing that MMP-1 is expressed in endothelial cells in atherosclerotic lesions4 and demonstrates for the first time that oxidized LDL is an effective mediator responsible for the induction of MMP-1 expression in vascular endothelial cells.
Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs), human aortic endothelial cells (HAECs), and culture medium were purchased from Cascade Biologics, Inc (Portland, Ore). The cells were cultured in a 5% CO2 atmosphere in medium 200 (Cascade Biologics) containing 2% FBS, 0.17 nmol/L human fibroblast growth factor, 1.6 nmol/L human epidermal growth factor, 2.76 μmol/L hydrocortisone, and antibiotics. The flasks were precoated with 0.1% gelatin. The medium was changed every 2 or 3 days. Cell monolayers in the second to sixth passage were used in the experiments.
Lipoprotein Isolation and Oxidation
LDL (1.019 to 1.063 g/mL) was separated from the plasma of normal volunteers by sequential ultracentrifugation at 60 000 rpm for 24 hours at 10°C in a 60-Ti rotor (Beckman). The isolated LDL was washed and concentrated by ultracentrifugation in a SW41 rotor (Beckman) spun at 40 000 rpm for 24 hours at 10°C. LDL was then dialyzed against a 0.16 mol/L NaCl solution containing 300 μmol/L EDTA, pH 7.4, sterilized by passage through a 0.45-μm filter (Gelman Sciences) and stored under N2 at 4°C. LDL was oxidized with Cu2+ as described previously.8 In brief, EDTA was removed by passing LDL over a PD-10 column. LDL (1.5 mg/mL) was mixed with 10 μmol/L Cu2+ and incubated at 37°C for 18 hours. EDTA (300 μmol/L) and 40 μmol/L BHT were added to stop the reaction. The oxidized LDL was dialyzed against a 0.16 mol/L NaCl solution containing 300 μmol/L EDTA, pH 7.4, by using dialysis tubing with a molecular weight cutoff of 12 000 kDa. The degree of LDL oxidation was determined by the thiobarbituric acid–reactive substances assay,9 by measurements of conjugated dienes10 and fluorescent compounds,11 and by electrophoretic mobility assay on agarose gel in barbital buffer at pH 8.6.12 The formation of conjugated dienes and fluorescent compounds, as surrogates for oxidation of lipid and protein moieties, respectively, in oxidized LDL was 5.4-fold and 13-fold of those in native LDL, respectively (the Table⇓). The endotoxin level in oxidized LDL preparations was measured using an endotoxin assay kit (Sigma), and the level was below the lower limit of detection (0.015 U/mL).
Immunoblotting Analysis of Secreted MMP-1
Immunoblotting analysis of secreted MMP-1 in conditioned medium was performed with anti–MMP-1 monoclonal antibodies (Oncogene Research Products) according to the instructions from the manufacturer. In brief, conditioned medium was 10-fold concentrated by lyophilization, and an aliquot containing 25 μg of protein was electrophoresed in a 10% SDS polyacrylamide gel and then transferred to a polyvinylidene membrane (NEN Life Science Products). After the transfer, the membrane was incubated with a blocking buffer containing 20 mmol/L Tris, pH 7.6, 130 mmol/L NaCl, 0.1% Tween-20, and 5% nonfat dry milk for 1 hour at room temperature. The membrane was washed and then incubated at 4°C overnight with anti–MMP-1 monoclonal antibodies, followed by incubation with a horseradish peroxidase–conjugated rabbit anti-mouse IgG for 1 hour at room temperature. MMP-1 was detected by incubating the membrane with chemiluminescence reagents (NEN Life Science Products) for 1 minute and exposing it to x-ray film for 30 seconds. The film was scanned by densitometry for quantitation of MMP-1.
ELISA of Secreted MMP-1
Secreted MMP-1 by endothelial cells was quantitated using an ELISA kit (Oncogene) according to the protocol from the manufacturer. One hundred microliters of conditioned medium were pipetted into each well of the plate coated with monoclonal anti-human MMP-1 antibodies, and incubation was carried out at room temperature for 2 hours. After the incubation, the plate was washed 5 times with PBS and second monoclonal anti-human MMP-1 antibodies conjugated with horseradish peroxidase were added. After incubation at room temperature for 1 hour, the plate was washed exhaustively, followed by addition of tetramethylbenzidine. The plate was incubated in the dark at room temperature for 30 minutes, and the reaction was stopped by addition of 2.5N H2SO4. The absorbance at 450 nm was measured by a spectrophotometric plate reader. A standard curve was obtained using purified MMP-1 as the antigen supplied with the kit.
Zymography Analysis of Secreted MMP-1
Ten microliters of HUVEC-conditioned medium was electrophoresed on 12% precast zymogram gels (Novex) containing 1 mg/mL casein under nonreducing conditions. The gel was washed with Tris-buffered saline buffer containing 2.5% Triton X-100 and then incubated with developing buffer containing 50 mmol/L Tris, pH 7.5, 200 mmol/L NaCl, 5 mmol/L CaCl2, and 0.02% Brij-35 at 37°C for 24 hours in the presence or absence of 0.3 mmol/L 1,10-phenanthroline, a specific MMP inhibitor.13 After the incubation, the gel was stained for 3 hours with Coomassie blue and destained.
Preparation of Radiolabeled MMP-1 cDNA Probe
A plasmid clone of human MMP-1 was purchased from the American Type Culture Collection (Manassas, Va). A 2.2-kb MMP-1 cDNA fragment was released from the plasmid by digestion of the plasmid with XhoI. The fragments were purified from agarose gel and radiolabeled with [α-32P]ATP by using the Prime-a-Gene Labeling System (Promega). Human glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) cDNA was also purchased from the American Type Culture Collection and radiolabeled as described above.
Northern Blot Analysis
Total cellular RNA was isolated from control and stimulated endothelial cells with the Ultraspec RNA isolation reagent according to the instructions from the manufacturer (Biotecx Laboratories, Inc). Twenty micrograms of total RNA for each sample was electrophoresed in a 1% agarose gel and transferred to a nylon membrane in a 20× saline–sodium citrate (SSC) buffer. The nylon membrane was prehybridized at 42°C for 3 hours in a buffer containing 50% formamide and then hybridized with the 32P-labeled MMP-1 or GAPDH cDNA for 18 hours at 42°C in the presence of 50% formamide. After hybridization, the membrane was washed at 50°C for 1 hour in a buffer containing 2× SSC and 0.1% SDS and for 0.5 hours in a buffer containing 0.1× SSC and 0.1% SDS. The membrane was then exposed to x-ray film at −70°C for 8 to 18 hours. The relative amounts of MMP-1 or GAPDH mRNA were estimated by densitometry scanning of the films.
Nuclear Run-on Assay
Nuclear run-on transcription assay was performed using a method described by Greenberg and Bender,14 with slight modifications. Endothelial cells were dislodged from culture dishes by scraping with a rubber policeman. The cells were then centrifuged and lysed with a lysis buffer containing 10 mmol/L Tris-HCl, 10 mmol/L NaCl, 3 mmol/L MgCl2, and 0.5% NP-40. The nuclei were spun down at 500g at 4°C and the supernatant was removed. The nuclear pellet was resuspended in a buffer containing 50 mmol/L Tris-HCl, pH 8.3, 40% glycerol, 5 mmol/L MgCl2, and 0.1 mmol/L EDTA and stored at −70°C. To perform the nuclear run-on assay, 20×106 nuclei from each treatment group were incubated in buffer containing 5 mmol/L Tris-HCl, pH 8.0; 2.5 mmol/L MgCl2; 150 mmol/L KCl; 2.5 mmol/L each of ATP, GTP, CTP, and [α-32P]UTP (100 μCi, Amersham); and 12.5 mmol/L DTT for 30 minutes at 37°C with shaking. Radiolabeled transcripts were isolated using Ultraspec RNA (Biotecx) and dissolved in diethylpyrocarbonate-treated water.
One microgram of MMP-1 and GAPDH cDNA was boiled for 5 minutes, chilled quickly on ice, and then applied to a nylon membrane mounted in a dot-blot apparatus (Schleicher & Schuell, Inc). The immobilized cDNAs were hybridized with the radiolabeled transcripts obtained from the nuclear run-on reaction for 48 hours at 45°C in buffer containing 50 mmol/L PIPES, 500 mmol/L NaCl, 33% formamide, 0.1% SDS, 2 mmol/L EDTA, and 5 mg/mL salmon sperm DNA. The nylon membrane was washed twice with 1× SSC with 0.1% SDS at 50°C for 30 minutes each. Dried membrane was exposed to x-ray film.
Collagenase Activity Assay
This assay was modified from the procedure of Fisher et al.15 Type I collagenase activity in the conditioned medium of endothelial cells was determined using [3H]type I collagen (DuPont-NEN) as a substrate, according to the procedures provided by the manufacturer. In brief, the 3H-labeled type I collagen was mixed with unlabeled collagen (1 mg/mL) in 0.01N acetic acid (specific activity 0.68 nCi/μg). Formation of collagen fibrils was induced by mixing 20 μL of the above collagen with 30 μL of a buffer containing 20 mmol/L Tris-HCl, pH 7.5, 50 mmol/L NaCl, and 10 mmol/L CaCl2 and incubating the mixture at 37°C for 2 hours. After the incubation, 100 μL of the endothelial cell–conditioned medium was added to the mixture, and the incubation was continued at 25°C for 3 hours. The reaction was stopped by chilling the samples on ice and then centrifuged at 12 000g for 5 minutes. The amount of degraded type I collagen was determined by counting the radioactivity in the supernatant. Radioactivity of the nonclotted collagen that was present in the supernatant before the addition of the conditioned medium was predetermined and subtracted from the radioactivity of the supernatant obtained after the incubation. The protein content of the cultured endothelial cells was determined by the assay of Lowry et al,16 and collagenase activity in the conditioned medium was adjusted according to the cell protein content.
Stimulation of MMP-1 Secretion From HUVECs by Oxidized LDL
The secretion of MMP-1 by endothelial cells exposed to oxidized LDL was determined by immunoblotting analysis of the conditioned medium by using an anti–MMP-1 monoclonal antibody. The blot (Figure 1⇓) showed a single band of 52 kDa, which corresponds to the latent form of MMP-1. Results showed that cells incubated with either native or oxidized LDL at doses of 50 or 100 μg/mL increased MMP-1 secretion to a greater extent than in cells incubated with medium alone. MMP-1 secretion by cells stimulated with 100 μg/mL oxidized LDL was, however, 2-fold higher than that obtained from cells stimulated with the same amount of native LDL, indicating that the oxidized LDL is more potent than native LDL in stimulating MMP-1 secretion by endothelial cells. As a positive control, 100 nmol/L phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) increased MMP-1 secretion markedly. In contrast, stimulation of the cells with IL-1β led only to a slight increase in MMP-1 secretion.
To quantitate MMP-1 in endothelial cell–conditioned medium, we performed an enzyme immunoassay by using a sandwich ELISA plate. The results (Figure 2⇓) showed that oxidized LDL stimulated MMP-1 secretion by 3.5-fold over control level, which is significantly higher than that stimulated by native LDL (2-fold). PMA stimulated MMP-1 secretion by 4.5-fold. These results are consistent with the data observed from the immunoblotting as described above.
Concentration-Dependent Stimulation of MMP-1 Secretion by Oxidized LDL
HUVECs were incubated with increasing concentrations of oxidized LDL (0 to 125 μg/mL) for 24 hours, and the conditioned medium was collected and used to perform immunoblotting analysis of secreted MMP-1 as described above. Our results showed that oxidized LDL induced MMP-1 release in a concentration-dependent manner, and the maximal stimulation was obtained with 100 μg/mL oxidized LDL, which led to a 4-fold increase over the level released by untreated cells (Figure 3⇓). Therefore, we selected 100 μg/mL oxidized LDL as the optimal concentration to stimulate cells in the subsequent experiments.
Casein Substrate Zymography Analysis of Secreted MMP-1
Immunoblotting data only showed a single band with a molecular weight of 52 kDa, which corresponds to the latent form of MMP-1 (Figure 1⇑). The absence of cleaved MMP-1 in the immunoblot could be due to the following reasons: (1) the monoclonal antibody used in the immunoblotting only recognizes the latent form of MMP-1 or (2) the MMP-1 secreted from endothelial cells was not cleaved in this in vitro system. To determine whether or not the MMP-1 secreted from endothelial cells was cleaved, we performed casein substrate zymography analysis. After treatment of the cells with medium alone (control) or with medium containing 100 μg/mL oxidized LDL at 37°C for 24 hours, 10 μL of conditioned medium was loaded onto 12% precast zymogram gels containing 1 mg/mL casein, and zymography was performed. Two bands with molecular weights of 52 and 46 kDa were observed, and the latter was the major band (Figure 4⇓), suggesting that most of the secreted MMP-1 was cleaved. We can therefore conclude the possibility that cells stimulated by oxidized LDL secreted both latent and cleaved forms of MMP-1 to a much higher level than did cells incubated with medium alone. The caseinolytic activity was completely inhibited when the gel was incubated in the presence of 0.3 mmol/L 1,10-phenanthroline, an MMP inhibitor,13 indicating that MMPs were responsible for the activity. The above results indicate that the monoclonal antibody used in immunoblotting recognizes only latent MMP-1.
Oxidized LDL Increased Steady-State MMP-1 mRNA Level
The effect of oxidized LDL on cellular steady-state levels of MMP-1 mRNA was determined by Northern blotting. HUVECs were incubated with or without oxidized LDL for 24 hours, and RNA was then isolated for Northern blot analysis. PMA was used as a positive control, because it had been previously shown that PMA activates MMP-1 transcription.17 To determine whether the MMP-1 expression was dependent on the degree of LDL oxidation, the cells were treated with 100 μg/mL native LDL, 100 μg/mL oxidized LDL that was copper oxidized for 12 hours, and 100 μg/mL oxidized LDL that was copper oxidized for 21 hours. Results showed that both native LDL and oxidized LDL increased the MMP-1 mRNA level. However, oxidized LDL stimulated MMP-1 mRNA to a significantly greater extent compared with native LDL (Figure 5⇓). The degree of LDL oxidation influenced MMP-1 mRNA expression considerably, as our data showed that LDL oxidized for 21 hours induced more MMP-1 mRNA than did LDL oxidized for 12 hours. PMA induced a remarkable increase in MMP-1 mRNA.
Time-Dependent Stimulation of MMP-1 Expression by Oxidized LDL
The time course of MMP-1 expression by HUVECs exposed to oxidized LDL was also determined by Northern blot analysis. The cells were incubated with 100 μg/mL oxidized LDL for 2, 4, 10, and 22 hours, and RNA was isolated and run on a Northern blot. The results showed that oxidized LDL stimulated MMP-1 mRNA expression in a time-dependent manner (Figure 6⇓). A 3- and a 24-fold increase in MMP-1 mRNA over the control level was observed by 2 and 22 hours of stimulation, respectively, showing that the cellular MMP-1 mRNA level increased quickly and steadily in response to oxidized LDL.
Stimulation of MMP-1 Secretion by Oxidized LDL Is Due to Transcriptional Activation
The increase in MMP-1 mRNA in cells stimulated by oxidized LDL could be due to transcriptional activation of the MMP-1 gene or to an increased stability of MMP-1 mRNA. To determine whether or not oxidized LDL activates MMP-1 transcription, HUVECs were incubated with oxidized LDL in the absence or presence of actinomycin D, an inhibitor of transcription.18 After the incubation, the MMP-1 secreted from the cells was determined by immunoblotting analysis. Our results showed that 2 μg/mL actinomycin D completely inhibited oxidized LDL–stimulated MMP-1 secretion (Figure 7⇓), suggesting that oxidized LDL–stimulated MMP-1 secretion is transcription-dependent. To further confirm that oxidized LDL activates MMP-1 transcription, nuclear run-on analysis was performed. Results showed higher hybridization signals of MMP-1 after using transcription products from nuclei of oxidized LDL–treated endothelial cells, compared with those from nuclei of control cells (Figure 8⇓), indicating that oxidized LDL induces MMP-1 gene activation.
Stimulation of MMP-1 Expression in HAECs by Oxidized LDL
In this study, HAECs was employed to determine whether oxidized LDL also stimulates MMP-1 expression in arterial endothelial cells. The results from immunoblotting study showed that oxidized LDL also stimulated MMP-1 secretion from HAECs more effectively than did native LDL (Figure 9A⇓). Northern blot showed that oxidized LDL increased more MMP-1 mRNA than did native LDL (Figures 9B⇓ and 9C⇓). These data indicated that oxidized LDL stimulated the expression of MMP-1 in both arterial and venous endothelial cells.
Stimulation of Collagenase Activity by Oxidized LDL
In addition to the zymography analysis, collagenase activity in conditioned medium was further determined using 3H-labeled type I collagen as a substrate. Our results (Figure 10⇓) showed that the collagenase activity in the medium conditioned by exposure of the cells to oxidized LDL was significantly higher than that observed in the medium collected from untreated cells. Although native LDL also increased collagenase activity, the extent of the increase was lower than that present in medium conditioned by exposure of the cells to oxidized LDL. Interestingly, medium conditioned by exposure of the cells to PMA did not have increased collagenase activity, suggesting that regardless of the fact that PMA stimulated MMP-1 release from HUVECs, it may also induce release of a comparable amount of MMP-1 inhibitors, such as tissue inhibitors of MMP, which prevent an increase in MMP-1 activity. The collagenase activity stimulated by oxidized LDL was inhibited by 1 mmol/L 1,10-phenanthroline, indicating that MMPs were responsible for the collagenase activity in the cell-conditioned medium.
Pathology studies demonstrated that disrupted atherosclerotic plaques contain less collagen do than undisrupted lesions, indicating that the collagen content of the fibrous cap in atherosclerotic plaques is essential for plaque stability.19 Collagen is the major component of extracellular matrix in atherosclerotic arteries, comprising up to 40% of the total protein in fibrous plaques and 60% in advanced lesions.20 Most of the collagen (50% to 75%) in a diseased intima is of type I.21 22 Recent studies have shown that the expression of the different types of collagen in smooth muscle cells is regulated by cytokines and growth factors.23 For example, TGF-β and platelet-derived growth factor stimulate biosynthesis of types I and III collagen,23 whereas IFN-γ markedly inhibits it.24 25 IFN-γ also promotes apoptosis of smooth muscle cells.26 These studies suggested that the decreased production of collagen by smooth muscle cells may be an important cause of the relative paucity of collagen in vulnerable regions of atherosclerotic plaques.
In addition to the decrease in production of collagen, enhanced degradation of collagen could also contribute to vulnerability of the fibrous cap.4 The triple-helical structure of fibrillar collagens strongly resists degradation by most types of proteolytic enzymes except MMPs.27 In the MMP superfamily, MMP-1, or interstitial collagenase, is an important MMP specialized in the initial cleavage of collagens, mainly type I, at neutral pH.27 MMP-1 has been shown to be specifically present in atherosclerotic plaques and expressed by the cells present in atheroma lesions, including endothelial cells, macrophages, and smooth muscle cells.3 Although it has been postulated that expression of MMPs in these cells is induced by cytokines such as TNF and IL-1,4 no studies are available to confirm this hypothesis.5 In reality, to our knowledge, factors that induce MMP-1 expression in endothelial cells and macrophages have not yet been well defined. The present study demonstrates that oxidized LDL is a potent stimulator of MMP-1 expression in vascular endothelial cell, and therefore, it is likely involved in plaque disruption.
It has been shown that endothelial cells secrete MMPs through both the apical and the basolateral surfaces.28 Therefore, MMP-1 secreted basolaterally from luminal endothelium could be involved in the subendothelial destruction of extracellular matrix and remodeling of plaques. Excess degradation of subendothelial extracellular matrix could lead to the weakening of the fibrous cap.4 The function of the MMP-1 secreted from the apical phase of endothelial cells into the blood circulation remains unknown. It has been found that MMP-1 is also expressed in the endothelium of the neovessels present in atherosclerotic plaques. Thus, MMP-1 secreted by neovascular endothelial cells may contribute to degradation of type I collagen in atheromas. Furthermore, it is likely that expression of MMP-1 by neovascular endothelial cells may facilitate migration of endothelial cells through the extracellular matrix during angiogenesis, a characteristic of plaque evolution.3 Indeed, in vitro studies have quite convincingly demonstrated that MMP-1 is required for angiogenesis.15 29 30 The penetration of new capillaries through the dense extracellular matrix promoted by MMP-1 has been thought to contribute to the plaque vulnerability, because the plaque’s shoulder regions, where rupture frequently occurs, have abundant neovascularization.3
The present study demonstrated, for the first time, that oxidized LDL increases MMP-1 expression in human vascular endothelial cells. This finding allows us to postulate that oxidized LDL may not only contribute to initiation and progression of arteriosclerosis5 but may also be involved in plaque rupture, a crucial event in AMI. Therefore, the therapeutic strategies that target the formation of oxidized LDL may not only prevent plaque formation but also lead to stabilization of vulnerable plaques.
This work was supported in part by grant HL-55782 from the National Institutes of Health and a Grant-in-Aid from the American Heart Association (to M.F.L-V.) and an institutional grant from the Medical University of South Carolina (to Y.H.). We thank Charlyne Chassereau for the isolation and modification of LDL.
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