1. Mouse resident peritoneal macrophages in culture modified human 125I-labelled low-density lipoprotein (LDL) to a form that other macrophages took up about 10 times as fast as unmodified LDL. The modified LDL was toxic to macrophages in the absence of serum. 2. There was a lag phase of about 4-6 h before the LDL was modified so that macrophages took it up faster. A similar time lag was observed when LDL was oxidized by 5 microM-CuSO4 in the absence of cells. 3. LDL modification was maximal when about 1.5 x 10(6) peritoneal cells were plated per 22.6 mm-diam. well. 4. Re-isolated macrophage-modified LDL was also taken up much faster by macrophages, indicating that the increased uptake was due to a change in the LDL particle itself. 5. Micromolar concentrations of iron were required for the modification of LDL by macrophages to take place. The nature of the other components in the culture medium was also important. Macrophages would modify LDL in Ham's F-10 medium but not in Dulbecco's modified Eagle's medium, even when iron was added to it. 6. The macrophage-modified LDL appeared to be taken up almost entirely via the acetyl-LDL receptor. 7. LDL modification by macrophages was inhibited partially by EDTA and desferrioxamine and completely by the general free radical scavengers butylated hydroxytoluene, vitamin E and nordihydroguaiaretic acid. It was also inhibited completely by low concentrations of foetal calf serum and by the anti-atherosclerotic drug probucol. It was not inhibited by the cyclo-oxygenase inhibitors acetylsalicylic acid and indomethacin. 8. Macrophages are a major cellular component of atherosclerotic lesions and the local oxidation of LDL by these cells may contribute to their conversion into cholesterol-laden foam cells in the arterial wall.

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