7,8-Dihydroneopterin and its effect on the formation of foam cells.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Atherosclerosis (Heart Disease) is an inflammatory disease caused by the formation of plaque within the arterial wall. In response to inflammation, monocytes enter the artery wall, differentiate into macrophages and take up altered low-density-lipoprotein (such as oxidised-LDL). This oxLDL is taken up into the phagocytotic macrophages via the action of the scavenger receptors. If more oxLDL is engulfed than the cell can process, they further differentiate into lipid-loaded foam cells. These are the main cell type found in atherosclerotic plaques. The scavenger receptor CD36 is responsible for 70% of oxLDL uptake by macrophages. Previous studies show that CD36 expression can be down regulated by the antioxidant, 7,8-dihydroneopterin. This research focuses on the effect of CD36 down regulation by 7,8-dihydroneopterin on foam cell formation.
Human macrophages prepared from monocytes purified from human blood were incubated with copper oxidised LDL for up to 48 hours. Macrophage accumulation of the sterols was measured using a high performance chromatograph (HPLC) method developed as part of this project. The HPLC analysis measured: cholesterol, cholesteryl-oleate and -palmitate and 7-ketocholesterol accumulation within human macrophages. A flow cytometry procedure was developed where the strongly adherent macrophages could be lifted from the tissue culture plates before immuno staining for CD36. Effect of incubating macrophages with 7,8-dihydroneopterin on the formation of foam cells was studied by measuring the lipid content by HPLC and flow cytometry measurement of CD36. HPLC analysis showed non-cytotoxic levels of oxLDL produced a large accumulation of cholesterol and cholesteryl esters in the macrophages. Cholesterol, 7-ketocholesterol and cholesteryl-oleate and -palmitate concentrations in the cells rose significantly over the first 24 hours and stayed at a steady level for the following 24 hours. CD36 levels was further analysed on human macrophages. This study shows that foam cell formation can be measured using human macrophages. 7,8-Dihydroneopterin treatment resulted in a reduction of cholesterol and oxysterol uptake back to basal levels. It also reduced CD36 cell surface expression by a third. These results suggest that even a small reduction in CD36 cell surface expression may have a large effect on foam cell formation. This is another mechanism by which 7,8-dihydroneopterin protects against atherosclerosis developing.