Normal fasting human plasma was incubated for 24 h at 37 degrees C in the presence or absence of lecithin:cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) inhibitors. The low-density lipoprotein (LDL) fractions of incubated plasma (control LDL and LCAT-modified LDL) were studied with respect to their chemical and functional properties. LCAT-modified LDL differed from control LDL by a decreased phospholipid and free-cholesterol content, but increased cholesteryl esters. Furthermore, an increase of the relative protein content in LDL by 16-20% was found. Apolipoproteins of LCAT-modified LDL exhibited a 10-fold increase of apo AI, a 4-5-fold increase of apo E, and a 2-fold increase of apo C. All these apolipoproteins resided together with apo B on the same particles. LCAT-modified LDL displayed a higher electrophoretic mobility, a higher hydrated density, a decreased flotation constant and a smaller diameter. Cultured human fibroblasts bound and internalized LCAT-modified LDL to a lower extent than control LDL. The degradation, however, was faster. Modified LDL suppressed 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase activity to a lower extent than did control LDL. Our results demonstrate that LCAT action, together with lipid transfer and exchange processes, markedly alters the chemical and physiochemical properties of LDL. This in turn significantly influences LDL catabolism in vitro.

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