Expression of LDL receptor, VLDL receptor, LDL receptor-related protein, and scavenger receptor in rabbit atherosclerotic lesions: marked induction of scavenger receptor and VLDL receptor expression during lesion development

Circulation. 1998 Mar 24;97(11):1079-86. doi: 10.1161/01.cir.97.11.1079.


Background: Atherosclerotic lesions contain foam cells that arise from monocyte-macrophages and smooth muscle cells (SMCs) by excessive uptake of lipoproteins. There are many candidate receptors for the lipid accumulation, such as LDL receptor (LDLR), VLDL receptor (VLDLR), LDL receptor-related protein (LRP), and scavenger receptors (SRs). However, little quantitative information exists on the expression of these receptors in normal and atherosclerotic arteries.

Methods and results: Competitive reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and in situ hybridization were used for the studies in New Zealand White (NZW) and Watanabe heritable hyperlipidemic (WHHL) rabbit aortic intima-medias. NZW rabbits were fed a 1% cholesterol diet for 0 (control group), 3, 6, or 14 weeks. LDLR mRNA expression was low in aortic intima-medias of all groups. Of the analyzed receptors, LRP had the highest expression in the control group, and its mRNA was induced threefold in the 14-week group, the aortas of which had extensive lesions. SR expression was low and VLDLR expression moderate in the control group. Both receptors were highly induced during cholesterol feeding (SRs, 3-fold and 270-fold induction; VLDLR, 15-fold and 100-fold induction in the 3-week and 14-week groups, respectively). Comparable results were obtained from WHHL rabbits: high basal LRP mRNA in normal intima-medias; moderate induction of LRP and marked induction of SRs and VLDLR in fatty streaks and fatty plaques. In situ hybridization indicated that LRP and VLDLR were expressed in SMCs and macrophages. VLDLR expression was also observed in endothelial cells. SR expression was detected only in macrophages.

Conclusions: SR and VLDLR mRNAs were highly induced in atherosclerotic lesions. VLDLR and LRP may be involved in the formation of both SMC-and macrophage-derived foam cells, whereas SRs play an important role in lipid uptake in macrophages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aorta / metabolism
  • Aortic Diseases / metabolism
  • Arteriosclerosis / metabolism*
  • Diet, Atherogenic
  • Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Related Protein-1
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rabbits
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism*
  • Receptors, LDL / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Lipoprotein*
  • Receptors, Scavenger
  • Scavenger Receptors, Class B


  • Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Related Protein-1
  • Membrane Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Receptors, LDL
  • Receptors, Lipoprotein
  • Receptors, Scavenger
  • Scarb1 protein, mouse
  • Scavenger Receptors, Class B
  • VLDL receptor