Abstract 497: Cholesterol and Toll-like Receptor Signaling Are Important Regulators of Macrophage Interactions with Atherosclerotic Lipoprotein Aggregates
Macrophages encounter deposits of aggregated low-density lipoproteins (agLDL) in the subendothelial space of blood vessels during the first stages of atherosclerotic plaque formation. Notably, current models for the mechanism of macrophage internalization of cholesterol in early atherosclerotic plaques are incomplete due to the lack of attention paid to the unique cellular mechanisms that are required for macrophages to degrade aggregates of LDL in particular, which can comprise >90% of the LDL in atherosclerotic plaques. In fact, internalization of cholesterol from cholesteryl esters in agLDL involves the development of intriguing cellular processes in which extracellular acidic compartments, lysosomal synapses (LSs), are formed whereby agLDL is partially degraded prior to internalization. This process requires extensive cytoskeletal rearrangements and secretion of lysosomal enzymes responsible for hydrolysis of cholesteryl esters from the agLDL. Subsequent delivery of free cholesterol from agLDL to the macrophage plasma membrane is central for development of the LS. Nonetheless, the molecular mechanism underlying initiation and propagation of the LS are currently largely unknown. This research proposal aims to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of LS formation and the role that cholesterol plays in eliciting these morphological responses to agLDL. Fluorescence microscopy assays were used to identify activation of TLR4 and downstream signaling involving PI3K and Akt as important events leading to LS formation. Furthermore, morphological responses of macrophages to cholesterol overloading require overlapping signaling pathways, indicating the role of interplay of cholesterol and TLR4 signaling in development of this novel macrophage interaction with aggregated LDL found in plaques. Identification of specific molecular pathways involved in this process will not only contribute to the basic understanding of one of the primary cellular processes contributing to atherosclerosis, one of the primary causes of heart disease, but also provide tangible molecular targets for the ultimate development of therapies.
- © 2012 by American Heart Association, Inc.