Sterol 27-Hydroxylase- and ApoAI/Phospholipid-Mediated Efflux of Cholesterol From Cholesterol-Laden Macrophages: Evidence for an Inverse Relation Between the Two Mechanisms

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Cholesterol-laden, human monocyte-derived macrophages were found to contain 27-hydroxycholesterol in proportion to their content of cholesterol ester. In accordance with previous work with human lung alveolar macrophages, there was a significant efflux of 27-hydroxycholesterol and 3 beta-hydroxy-5-cholestenoic acid from the cultured cells. The efflux of 27-hydroxycholesterol was proportional to the cellular content of this steroid. Incubation of cholesterol-laden macrophages with reconstituted discoidal complexes made from apolipoprotein A-I and phospholipids resulted in a decrease in total cellular cholesterol, an increase in the efflux of free cholesterol, and a concomitant decrease in the total production and efflux of 27-oxygenated steroids, in particular, 3 beta-hydroxy-5-cholestenoic acid. Reconstituted discoidal complexes with the Milano variant of apolipoprotein A-I gave virtually identical results, whereas high density lipoprotein was less efficient. These results suggest that cultured cholesterol-laden cells can export some of their excess cholesterol in the form of 27-hydroxycholesterol, 3 beta-hydroxy-5-cholestenoic acid, and free cholesterol. In the presence of exogenous cholesterol acceptors, export of free cholesterol becomes more effective, resulting in less cholesterol exported via the 27-hydroxylase pathway. The balance between the two mechanisms for removal of cholesterol from macrophages may be of importance for formation of foam cells and development of atherosclerosis. (Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1998;18:554-561.)

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