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Research Article

Low-density lipoprotein receptor-deficient mice are protected against lethal endotoxemia and severe gram-negative infections.

M G Netea, P N Demacker, B J Kullberg, O C Boerman, I Verschueren, A F Stalenhoef and J W van der Meer

Department of Medicine, University Hospital Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Published March 15, 1996

Lipoproteins can bind lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and decrease the LPS-stimulated production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. We investigated the effect of increased plasma concentrations of low-density-lipoproteins (LDL) on survival and cytokine production after a lethal challenge with either LPS or live Gram-negative bacteria in LDL receptor deficient mice (LDLR-/-). The LDLR-/- mice challenged with LPS had an eightfold increased LD50 when compared with the wild type controls (C57Bl/6J), while tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) and interleukin-1 alpha (IL-1 alpha) plasma concentrations were decreased twofold. LDLR-/- mice had significantly lower and delayed mortality than control mice after infection with Klebsiella pneumoniae. No differences in the outgrowth of bacteria in the organs were present between the two groups, while circulating cytokine concentrations were decreased twofold in LDLR-/- mice. In contrast, the LPS-stimulated in vitro production of cytokines by peritoneal macrophages of LDLR-/- mice was significantly increased compared with controls. This increase was associated with enhanced specific binding of LPS to the macrophages of LDLR-/- mice. In conclusion, endogenous LDL can protect against the lethal effects of endotoxin and Gram-negative infection. At least part of this protection is achieved through decreased in vivo production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, in spite of increased cytokine production capacity.

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