Secretion of ferritin by iron-laden macrophages and influence of lipoproteins.
Free Radical Research, January 2004
Increasing evidence supports a role of cellular iron in the initiation and development of atherosclerosis. We and others reported earlier that iron-laden macrophages are associated with LDL oxidation, angiogenesis, nitric oxide production and apoptosis in atherosclerotic processes. Here we have further studied perturbed iron metabolism in macrophages, their interaction with lipoproteins and the origin of iron accumulation in human atheroma. In both early and advanced human atheroma lesions, hemoglobin and ferritin accumulation correlated with the macrophage-rich areas. Iron uptake into macrophages, via transferrin receptors or scavenger receptor-mediated erythrophagocytosis, increased cellular iron and accelerated ferritin synthesis at both mRNA and protein levels. The binding activity of iron regulatory proteins was enhanced by desferrioxamine (DFO) and decreased by hemin and iron compounds. Iron-laden macrophages exocytosed both iron and ferritin into the culture medium. Exposure to oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL, >or=50 microg/mL) resulted in <20% apoptosis of iron-laden human macrophages, but cells remained impermeable after a 24 h period and an increased excretion of ferritin could be observed by immunostaining techniques. Exposure to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) significantly decreased ferritin excretion from these cells. We conclude: (i) erythrophagocytosis and hemoglobin catabolism by macrophages contribute to ferritin accumulation in human atherosclerotic lesions and; (ii) iron uptake into macrophages leads to increased synthesis and secretion of ferritin; (iii) oxidized LDL and HDL have different effects on these processes.
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