Endothelial cell (EC) migration is a critical and initiating event in the formation of new blood vessels and in the repair of injured vessels. Compelling evidence suggests that oxidized low density lipoprotein (LDL) is present in atherosclerotic lesions, but its role in lesion formation has not been defined. We have examined the role of oxidized LDL in regulating the wound-healing response of vascular EC in vitro. Confluent cultures of bovine aortic EC were "wounded" with a razor, and migration was measured after 18 to 24 h as the number of cells moving into the wounded area and the mean distance of cells from the wound edge. Oxidized LDL markedly reduced migration in a concentration- and oxidation-dependent manner. Native LDL or oxidized LDL with a thiobarbituric acid (TBA) reactivity < 5 nmol malondialdehyde equivalents/mg cholesterol was not inhibitory; however, oxidized LDL with a TBA reactivity of 8-12 inhibited migration by 75-100%. Inhibition was half-maximal at 250-300 micrograms cholesterol/ml and nearly complete at 350-400 micrograms/ml. The antimigratory activity was not due to cell death since it was completely reversed 16 h after removal of the lipoprotein. The inhibitor molecule was shown to be a lipid; organic solvent extracts of oxidized LDL inhibited migration to nearly the same extent as the intact particle. When LDL was variably oxidized by dialysis against FeSO4 or CuSO4, or by UV irradiation, the inhibitory activity correlated with TBA reactivity and total lipid peroxides, but not with electrophoretic mobility or fluorescence (360 ex/430 em). This indicates that a lipid hydroperoxide may be the active species. These results suggest the possibility that oxidized LDL may limit the healing response of the endothelium after injury.

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