Activation of monocytes in vivo causes intracellular accumulation of lipoprotein-derived lipids and marked hypocholesterolemia--a possible pathogenesis of necrobiotic xanthogranuloma

Atherosclerosis. 1999 Feb;142(2):355-65. doi: 10.1016/s0021-9150(98)00260-3.


Necrobiotic xanthogranuloma (NXG) is a rare histiocytic disease with generalized xanthomatosis. However, most cases with NXG are normolipidemic or hypolipidemic. The mechanism for the formation of xanthoma in NXG has not yet been clarified. We observed a case of NXG with severe hypocholesterolemia (total cholesterol: 1.69 mmol/l) and analyzed the function of monocytes in this case. Histological examinations by light microscopy revealed a large amount of lipid deposition in the patient's freshly isolated monocytes. The patient's monocytes showed a 3-fold increase in cholesteryl ester content and a 3-fold enhancement of acetyl low density lipoprotein (LDL) uptake compared with the control monocytes. However, no significant difference was noted in the expression of CD36 protein and the mRNA levels of scavenger receptor-class A (SR-A) between the monocytes of the patient and the control. The phagocytotic ability of the patient's monocytes was enhanced 1.5-fold compared with that of the control monocytes. These findings suggest that the activated monocytes may have degraded the modified LDL via a pathway other than CD36 or SR-A, and accumulated a great amount of lipids in vivo. In conclusion, the present study has demonstrated a possible pathogenesis of NXG that the activation of monocytes in vivo may contribute to the intracellular accumulation of lipoprotein-derived lipids leading to non-inherited xanthomatosis and the marked hypocholesterolemia.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animals
  • CD36 Antigens / genetics
  • CD36 Antigens / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cholesterol / deficiency*
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Cholesterol Esters / metabolism
  • DNA Primers / chemistry
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / metabolism
  • Granuloma / blood
  • Granuloma / etiology*
  • Granuloma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / metabolism*
  • Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins*
  • Mice
  • Monocytes / physiology*
  • Phagocytosis
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Immunologic / genetics
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism
  • Receptors, Lipoprotein*
  • Receptors, Scavenger
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Scavenger Receptors, Class A
  • Scavenger Receptors, Class B
  • Xanthomatosis / blood
  • Xanthomatosis / etiology*
  • Xanthomatosis / pathology


  • CD36 Antigens
  • Cholesterol Esters
  • DNA Primers
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Membrane Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Receptors, Lipoprotein
  • Receptors, Scavenger
  • Scarb1 protein, mouse
  • Scavenger Receptors, Class A
  • Scavenger Receptors, Class B
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor
  • Cholesterol