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In atherosclerotic plaques, macrophages ingest modified LDL and turn to foam cells. Others have shown that SR-BI expression levels inversely correlated with cellular cholesterol levels, and is independent of well characterized cholesterol sensing pathways; SREBP and LXR. Thus the mechanism of regulation of SR-BI is unclear. In this study, we showed that treating macrophage with agents known to increase cellular cholesterol levels, namely acLDL, LDL, MβCD:Cholesterol, resulted in reduction in HMGCoAR mRNA and SR-BI expression levels. In contrast, acLDL did not reduce SR-BI mRNA levels in macrophages from acLDL SR-A KO mice, demonstrating that acLDL mediate suppression of SR-BI was dependent on SR-A. Fucoidan, a known competitive inhibitor of acLDL binding to SR-A, and subsequent degradation, also suppressed SR-BI expression levels. Unlike acLDL, however, fucoidan induced mRNA levels corresponding to the pro-inflammatory genes iNOS and IL-6 mRNA levels, and its effects were not altered by the lack of SR-A. Instead, fucoidan mediated stimulation of iNOS and IL-6 and suppression of SR-BI mRNA levels was prevented by an anti-CD14 blocking antibody, demonstrating that the fucoidan mediated effects were dependent on CD14. Interleukin-15, a pro-inflammatory cytokine that binds to a distinct receptor, also induced iNOS and IL-6 mRNA levels and reduced SR-BI expression, suggesting that inflammatory signaling in general can reduce SR-BI expression levels. Treatment of macrophages with the lipoproteins acLDL, LDL or HDL suppressed the induction of iNOS and IL-6 mRNA by fucoidan or IL-15. Macrophages foam cells in an atherosclerotic plaque may have reduced SR-BI due to exposure with modified LDL or inflammatory cytokines or both in an atherosclerotic plaque. SR-BI expression in macrophages protects against atherosclerosis development. Our data suggests that modified lipoproteins as well as inflammatory stimuli suppress SR-BI expression in macrophages and this may contribute to their pro-apoptotic properties.

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