LDLs induce fibroblast spreading independently of the LDL receptor via activation of the p38 MAPK pathway

J Lipid Res. 2003 Dec;44(12):2382-90. doi: 10.1194/jlr.M300266-JLR200. Epub 2003 Sep 1.


Because adventitial fibroblasts play an important role in the repair of blood vessels, we assessed whether elevation in LDL concentrations would affect fibroblast function and whether this depended on activation of intracellular signaling pathways. We show here that in primary human fibroblasts, LDLs induced transient activation of the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway, but not the c-Jun N-terminal kinase MAPK pathway. This activation did not require the recruitment of the LDL receptor (LDLR), because LDLs efficiently stimulated the p38 MAPK pathway in human and mouse fibroblasts lacking functional LDLR, and because receptor-associated protein, an LDLR family antagonist, did not block the LDL-induced p38 activation. LDL particles also induced lamellipodia formation and cell spreading. These effects were blocked by SB203580, a specific p38 inhibitor. Our data demonstrate that LDLs can regulate the shape of fibroblasts in a p38 MAPK-dependent manner, a mechanism that may participate in wound healing or vessel remodeling as in atherosclerosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Size / drug effects
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / cytology*
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Humans
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / pharmacology*
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / drug effects*
  • Mice
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Pseudopodia / drug effects
  • Receptors, LDL / metabolism*
  • Skin
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases


  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Receptors, LDL
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases