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Increased autoantibody titers against epitopes of oxidized LDL in LDL receptor-deficient mice with increased atherosclerosis.


Increasing evidence indicates that immune processes modulate atherogenesis. Oxidized LDL (Ox-LDL) is immunogenic, and autoantibodies recognizing epitopes of Ox-LDL have been described in plasma and in atherosclerotic lesions of several species. To determine whether the titer of such autoantibodies correlates with the extent of atherosclerosis, we followed the development of antibodies against malondialdehyde-lysine, an epitope of Ox-LDL, in two groups of LDL receptor-deficient mice for 6 months. One group was fed an atherogenic diet (21% fat and 0.15% cholesterol) that resulted in marked hypercholesterolemia and extensive aortic atherosclerosis; the other group was fed regular rodent chow (4% fat) that did not alter plasma cholesterol levels and induced minimal atherosclerosis. Autoantibody titers significantly increased over time in the group on the atherogenic diet, whereas they remained constant in the chow-fed group. When data from both groups were pooled, a significant correlation was found between the autoantibody titers and the extent of atherosclerosis (r = .61, P < .01). Autoantibody titers also correlated with plasma cholesterol levels (r = .48, P < .05). These results suggest that the rise in autoantibody titers to an epitope of Ox-LDL in this murine model is partially determined by the extent of atherosclerosis but could also be influenced by the degree of hypercholesterolemia or other factors that may influence lipid peroxidation.

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