The Atherogenic Role of Circulating Modified Lipids in Atherosclerosis

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Jul 20;20(14):3561. doi: 10.3390/ijms20143561.


Lipid accumulation in the arterial wall is a crucial event in the development of atherosclerotic lesions. Circulating low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the major source of lipids that accumulate in the atherosclerotic plaques. It was discovered that not all LDL is atherogenic. In the blood plasma of atherosclerotic patients, LDL particles are the subject of multiple enzymatic and non-enzymatic modifications that determine their atherogenicity. Desialylation is the primary and the most important atherogenic LDL modification followed by a cascade of other modifications that also increase blood atherogenicity. The enzyme trans-sialidase is responsible for the desialylation of LDL, therefore, its activity plays an important role in atherosclerosis development. Moreover, circulating modified LDL is associated with immune complexes that also have a strong atherogenic potential. Moreover, it was shown that antibodies to modified LDL are also atherogenic. The properties of modified LDL were described, and the strong evidence indicating that it is capable of inducing intracellular accumulation of lipids was presented. The accumulated evidence indicated that the molecular properties of modified LDL, including LDL-containing immune complexes can serve as the prognostic/diagnostic biomarkers and molecular targets for the development of anti-atherosclerotic drugs.

Keywords: LDL-CIC; atherosclerosis; desialylation; modified low-density lipoprotein; trans-sialidase.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex / blood
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex / metabolism
  • Atherosclerosis / blood
  • Atherosclerosis / etiology
  • Atherosclerosis / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism / physiology*
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / blood
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / metabolism


  • Antigen-Antibody Complex
  • Lipoproteins, LDL