Endothelin-1 is a potent vasoconstrictor and mitogenic peptide that is implicated in the atherosclerosis of apolipoprotein E-deficient mice and may promote atherogenesis in humans. We hypothesized that endothelin-1 might promote the adhesion of monocytes to endothelial cells, a key early event in atherosclerosis. We investigated the adhesion of primary human monocytes (isolated by elutriation) to human umbilical vein endothelial cell cultures after incubation with endothelin-1 (0.1 and 0.01nM; approximately physiological concentrations), copper-oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) (0.1mg/ml) and a combination of the two. After a 4h incubation with 0.1 or 0.01nM endothelin-1 combined with oxidized LDL, adhesion was increased to 120±4% (P < 0.001 compared with control) and 118±4% (P < 0.002) respectively, whereas neither substance alone increased adhesion (92-104% of control values; not significant). Neither endothelin receptor A blockade nor co-incubation with anti-fibronectin antibody inhibited the pro-adhesive effects of endothelin-1 plus oxidized LDL (115±7% and 115±3% of control compared with 120±4% respectively; not significant). Endothelial cell expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1, vascular adhesion molecule-1 and E-selectin were unchanged throughout the experiment. Therefore physiological concentrations of endothelin-1 and oxidized LDL may act synergistically to increase the adhesion of human monocytes to endothelial cells, contributing in part to the observed pro-atherogenic effects of endothelin-1.

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