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Copper induces the expression of cholesterogenic genes in human macrophages.

Journal article
Authors Per-Arne Svensson
Mikael C. O. Englund
Emilia Markström
Bertil Ohlsson
Margareta Jernås
Håkan Billig
Jarl S Torgerson
Olov Wiklund
Lena M S Carlsson
Björn Carlsson
Published in Atherosclerosis
Volume 169
Issue 1
Pages 71-6
ISSN 0021-9150
Publication year 2003
Published at Wallenberg Laboratory
Institute of Physiology and Pharmacology
Institute of Internal Medicine
Institute of Physiology and Pharmacology, Dept of Physiology
Pages 71-6
Language en
Keywords Cholesterol, genetics, Copper Sulfate, pharmacology, Gene Expression Profiling, Gene Expression Regulation, drug effects, Humans, Hydroxymethylglutaryl CoA Reductases, genetics, metabolism, Macrophages, drug effects, metabolism, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Receptors, LDL, genetics, metabolism
Subject categories Physiology


Accumulation of lipids and cholesterol by macrophages and subsequent transformation into foam cells are key features in development of atherosclerosis. Serum copper concentrations have been shown to be associated with cardiovascular disease. However, the mechanism behind the proatherogenic effect of copper is not clear. We used DNA microarrays to define the changes in gene expression profile in response to copper exposure of human macrophages. Expression monitoring by DNA microarray revealed 91 genes that were regulated. Copper increased the expression of seven cholesterogenic genes (3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG CoA) synthase, IPP isomerase, squalene synthase, squalene epoxidase, methyl sterol oxidase, H105e3 mRNA and sterol-C5-desaturase) and low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDL-R), and decreased the expression of CD36 and lipid binding proteins. The expression of LDL-R and HMG CoA reductase was also investigated using real time PCR. The expression of both of these genes was increased after copper treatment of macrophages (P<0.01 and P<0.01, respectively). We conclude that copper activates cholesterogenic genes in macrophages, which may provide a mechanism for the association between copper and atherosclerosis. The effect of copper on cholesterogenic genes may also have implications for liver steatosis in early stages of Wilson's disease.

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