Macrophages are generally assumed to unload surplus cholesterol through direct interactions between ABC transporters on the plasma membrane and HDLs, but they have also been reported to release cholesterol-containing particles. How macrophage-derived particles are formed and released has not been clear. To understand the genesis of macrophage-derived particles, we imaged mouse macrophages by EM and nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry (nanoSIMS). By scanning EM, we found that large numbers of 20- to 120-nm particles are released from the fingerlike projections (filopodia) of macrophages. These particles attach to the substrate, forming a “lawn” of particles surrounding macrophages. By nanoSIMS imaging we showed that these particles are enriched in the mobile and metabolically active accessible pool of cholesterol (detectable by ALO-D4, a modified version of a cholesterol-binding cytolysin). The cholesterol content of macrophage-derived particles was increased by loading the cells with cholesterol or by adding LXR and RXR agonists to the cell-culture medium. Incubating macrophages with HDL reduced the cholesterol content of macrophage-derived particles. We propose that release of accessible cholesterol-rich particles from the macrophage plasma membrane could assist in disposing of surplus cholesterol and increase the efficiency of cholesterol movement to HDL.
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Published - 4 Sep 2018|