Background: Nuclear histones have previously been shown to aggregate LDL in vitro, suggestive of a possible proatherogenic role. Recent studies indicate that histones are released during acute inflammation, and therefore might interact with circulating lipoproteins in vivo. In view of the associative link between inflammation and cardiovascular disease, the behaviour of histones was investigated using in vitro models of LDL retention and foam cell formation.
Methodology/Principal Findings: Heparin agarose beads were used as a model of a matrix rich in sulphated glycosaminoglycans, to which histones bind strongly. Histone-modified beads were observed to pull down more LDL from solution than untreated beads, indicating that histones can function as bridging molecules, enhancing LDL retention. Furthermore, addition of heparin inhibited histone-induced aggregation of LDL. To model foam cell formation, murine RAW 264.7 macrophages were incubated for 24 h in the presence of LDL, histones, LDL plus histones or vehicle control. Cells incubated with LDL in the presence of histones accumulated significantly more intracellular lipid than with LDL or histone alone.
Conclusions/Significance: These results are consistent with a potential pro-atherogenic role for extracellular histones, which should be investigated further.