Globally profiling sialylation status of macrophages upon statin treatment

Glycobiology. 2015 Sep;25(9):1007-15. doi: 10.1093/glycob/cwv038. Epub 2015 Jun 1.


Sialic acids (SAs) are widely expressed on immune cells and their levels and linkages named as sialylation status vary upon cellular environment changes related to both physiological and pathological processes. In this study, we performed a global profiling of the sialylation status of macrophages and their release of SAs in the cell culture medium by using flow cytometry, confocal microscopy and liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Both flow cytometry and confocal microscopy results showed that cell surface α-2,3-linked SAs were predominant in the normal culture condition and changed slightly upon treatment with atorvastatin for 24 h, whereas α-2,6-linked SAs were negligible in the normal culture condition but significantly increased after treatment. Meanwhile, the amount of total cellular SAs increased about three times (from 369 ± 29 to 1080 ± 50 ng/mL) upon treatment as determined by the LC-MS/MS method. On the other hand, there was no significant change for secreted free SAs and conjugated SAs in the medium. These results indicated that the cell surface α-2,6 sialylation status of macrophages changes distinctly upon atorvastatin stimulation, which may reflect on the biological functions of the cells.

Keywords: LC-MS/MS; confocal microscopy; flow cytometry; macrophage; sialic acid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atorvastatin / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid / metabolism*


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Atorvastatin
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid