Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) circulating in human bloodstream is the source of lipids that accumulate in arterial intimal cells in atherosclerosis. In-vitro–modified LDL (acetylated, exposed to malondialdehyde, oxidized with transition metal ions, etc.) is atherogenic, that is, it causes accumulation of lipids in cultured cells. We have found that LDL circulating in the atherosclerosis patients’ blood is atherogenic, while LDL from healthy donors is not. Atherogenic LDL was found to be desialylated. Moreover, only the desialylated subfraction of human LDL was atherogenic. Desialylated LDL is generally denser, smaller, and more electronegative than native LDL. Consequently, these LDL types are multiply modified, and according to our observations, desialylation is probably the principal and foremost cause of lipoprotein atherogenicity. It was found that desialylated LDL of coronary atherosclerosis patients was also oxidized. Complex formation further increases LDL atherogenicity, with LDL associates, immune complexes with antibodies recognizing modified LDL and complexes with extracellular matrix components being most atherogenic. We hypothesized that a nonlipid factor might be extracted from the blood serum using a column with immobilized LDL. This treatment not only allowed revealing the nonlipid factor of blood atherogenicity but also opened the prospect for reducing atherogenicity in patients.
Part of the book: Advances in Lipoprotein Research