Atherosclerosis is a vascular injury characterized by elevated tissue levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), increased expression of endothelial cell adhesion molecules, and vascular wall inflammatory cell infiltration. Foam cells are associated with atherosclerotic plaque material, and low density lipoprotein (LDL) is a lipid component of foam cells. Malondialdehyde (MDA) is an oxidative product of unsaturated fatty acids and is also present in atherosclerotic lesions. MDA-modified (adducted) proteins, including MDA-modified LDL, are present in atherosclerotic human vascular tissue. Acetaldehyde (AA) is the major metabolic product of ethanol oxidation. Both MDA and AA are highly reactive aldehydes and will combine with proteins to produce an antigenically distinct protein adduct, termed the MAA adduct. This study demonstrates that proteins modified in the presence of high concentrations of MDA can produce MAA-modified proteins in vitro. In addition, MAA adducted proteins are capable of inducing rat heart endothelial cell cultures (rHEC) to produce and release TNF-alpha, and cause rHEC upregulation of endothelial adhesion molecule expression, including ICAM-1. These adhesion molecules are required for circulating inflammatory cells to adhere to endothelium which allows inflammatory cell tissue infiltration. Additionally, MAA modified proteins were defected in human atherosclerotic aortic vascular tissue but not in normal aortic tissue. Since atherosclerosis is associated with an inflammatory vascular injury characterized by elevated tissue TNF-alpha concentrations and inflammatory cell infiltration, these data suggest that MAA-adducted proteins may be formed in atherosclerotic plaque material and may be involved in the inflammatory reaction that occurs in atherosclerosis. These data further suggest that previous studies demonstrating MDA modified protein in atherosclerotic plaque may in fact have MAA modified proteins associated with them.
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