Platelet-mediated cholesterol accumulation in cultured aortic smooth muscle cells

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Science  08 Mar 1985:
Vol. 227, Issue 4691, pp. 1243-1245
DOI: 10.1126/science.3975612


Cholesterol accumulates within smooth muscle cells and macrophages in atherosclerotic lesions, thereby contributing to the progressive enlargement of these lesions. The mechanism of this cellular accumulation of cholesterol is not known. The possibility that platelets may have a role in the cellular cholesterol accumulation that occurs during atherogenesis was investigated. Incubation of thrombin-activated washed rat platelets (or platelet-free supernatants prepared from thrombin-activated platelets) with cultured rat aortic smooth muscle cells induced cholesteryl ester lipid droplet accumulation within the smooth muscle cells. No cholesteryl ester lipid droplets accumulated when smooth muscle cells were incubated with unactivated platelets. Smooth muscle cell lipid droplet accumulation occurred in the absence of serum lipoproteins and was not inhibited by mevinolin, a drug that blocks cholesterol synthesis. These findings suggest that activated platelets may release cholesterol, which can be accumulated by cells and stored as lipid droplets.