Rapamycin Promotes the Autophagic Degradation of Oxidized Low-Density Lipoprotein in Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells

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Abstract

Background/Aims:

Oxidized low-density lipoprotein (ox-LDL) has been extensively implicated in the initiation of atherosclerosis. Our previous studies reported that ox-LDL could activate autophagy in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Because of this, subsequent studies were designed to elucidate the possible role of the autophagic inducer, rapamycin, on ox-LDL degradation in endothelial cells.

Methods:

Intracellular cholesterol content was measured using a tissue total cholesterol assay kit. ox-LDL trafficking within endothelial cells was analyzed by flow cytometry. Levels of proteins involved in the autophagic process, microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (MAP1-LC3), lysosome-associated membrane protein 1 (LAMP1), Beclin 1 and p62, were assessed by Western blot analysis.

Results:

We discovered that rapamycin could decrease the ox-LDL content in HUVECs at the 3-hour time point. Rapamycin also mediated an obvious increase in Dil-labeled ox-LDL (Dil-ox-LDL)/LC3 and Dil-ox-LDL/LAMP1 co-localization, which was inhibited by 3-methyladenine (3-MA), an autophagic inhibitor. In addition, significant co-localization of LC3 and LAMP1 occurred in cells pretreated with rapamycin. In the presence of rapamycin, p62 levels were reduced, and autophagic flux was enhanced.

Conclusion:

These data demonstrate that the activation of the autophagy-lysosome pathway by rapamycin may accelerate ox-LDL degradation.

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