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Immunological evidence for the presence of advanced glycosylation end products in atherosclerotic lesions of euglycemic rabbits.

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Atherosclerosis is known to be accelerated in diabetic patients, but the mechanisms of this acceleration are poorly understood. Nonenzymatic glycosylation of long-lived proteins results in the formation of advanced glycosylation end products (AGEs), which are extensively cross-linked and could contribute to atherogenesis. Oxidative modification of LDL is also an important process in atherogenesis. In vitro evidence suggests that hyperglycemia may enhance lipid peroxidation, and conversely, that increased lipid peroxidation may enhance AGE formation. If such interactions occur in vivo, we hypothesized that AGE should be found in atherosclerotic lesions of euglycemic LDL receptor-deficient rabbits in areas rich in lipids and oxidized lipoproteins. To demonstrate the presence of AGEs, we developed antisera against a specific "model" compound of AGE, 2-furoyl-4(5)-(2-furanyl)-1H-imidazole (FFI) by using FFI-hexanoic acid (FFI-HA)-protein adducts as the antigen and against AGEs in general by using AGE-albumin as the antigen. Antisera generated with FFI-HA-protein adducts recognized FFI-HA alone as well as FFI-protein adducts. Native proteins or proteins conjugated with aldehydes formed during lipid peroxidation in vitro were not recognized by these antisera. Immunocytochemistry with both FFI-specific and AGE-specific antisera revealed the presence of these epitopes in atherosclerotic lesions of euglycemic LDL receptor-deficient rabbits but not in normal aortic tissues. AGE epitopes within atherosclerotic lesions were predominantly found in similar locations as epitopes generated during modification of the lipoproteins by oxidation, consistent with the hypothesized interactions between oxidation and glycosylation. Indirect evidence in support of the in vivo presence of FFI-like structures was also obtained by the observation that both diabetic and euglycemic human subjects contained autoantibodies that recognize FFI-protein adducts. Taken together, these data provide immunological evidence for the in vivo presence of FFI-like structures and other AGE-protein adducts in atherosclerotic lesions, even in euglycemic conditions.

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