High circulating levels of 7beta- and 7alpha-hydroxycholesterol and presence of apoptotic and oxidative markers in arterial lesions of normocholesterolemic atherosclerotic patients undergoing endarterectomy

Pathol Biol (Paris). 2006 Feb;54(1):22-32. doi: 10.1016/j.patbio.2004.11.002. Epub 2005 Jan 22.


In previous investigations, we found that 7beta-hydroxycholesterol had potent pro-apoptotic, and pro-oxidative properties. So, we asked whether the circulating level of this oxysterol was enhanced in atherosclerotic patients undergoing endarterectomy of the superficial femoral artery. To this end, 7beta-hydroxycholesterol serum concentrations were determined and compared with common lipid parameters in atherosclerotic patients, and in healthy subjects. 7alpha-hydroxycholesterol was simultaneously measured to evaluate the reliability of the method used for oxysterol analysis. On normal and atherosclerotic arterial fragments from patients, markers of oxidation (4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE) adducts), and apoptosis (activated caspase-3; condensed/fragmented nuclei) were studied. Interestingly, high serum concentrations of 7beta- and 7alpha-hydroxycholesterol were found in normocholesterolemic atherosclerotic patients. However, in statin-treated patients, the circulating levels of 7beta- and 7alpha-hydroxycholesterol tend towards normal values. Therefore, 7beta- as well as 7alpha-hydroxycholesterol could be more appropriate markers of lipid metabolism disorders than cholesterol or LDL in normocholesterolemic patients with atherosclerosis of the lower limbs, and statins could normalize their serum concentrations. At the arterial level, apoptotic cells were mainly identified in low grade lesions and no statin effects were found on oxidation and apoptosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atherosclerosis / blood*
  • Atherosclerosis / surgery*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Endarterectomy*
  • Female
  • Femoral Artery / surgery
  • Humans
  • Hydroxycholesterols / blood*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values


  • Biomarkers
  • Hydroxycholesterols
  • Lipids
  • cholest-5-en-3 beta,7 alpha-diol
  • Cholesterol