DOI: 10.1152/ajpcell.00415.2023 ISSN: 0363-6143

Cholesterol Trafficking, Lysosomal Function and Atherosclerosis

Alaa Skeyni, Alain Pradignac, Rachel L Matz, Jerome Terrand, Phillippe Boucher
  • Cell Biology
  • Physiology

Despite years of study and major research advances over the past 50 years, atherosclerotic diseases continue to rank as the leading global cause of death. Accumulation of cholesterol within the vascular wall remained the main problem and represented one of the early steps in the development of atherosclerotic lesions. There is a complex relationship between vesicular cholesterol transport and atherosclerosis, and abnormalities in cholesterol trafficking can contribute to the development and progression of the lesions. The dysregulation of vesicular cholesterol transport and lysosomal function fosters the buildup of cholesterol within various intracytoplasmic compartments, including lysosomes and lipid droplets. This, in turn, promotes the hallmark formation of foam cells, a defining feature of early atherosclerosis. Multiple cellular processes, encompassing endocytosis, exocytosis, intracellular trafficking, and autophagy, play crucial roles in influencing foam cell formation and atherosclerotic plaque stability. In this review, we will highlight recent advances in the understanding of the intricate mechanisms of vesicular cholesterol transport and its relationship with atherosclerosis, and will discuss the importance of understanding these mechanisms in developing strategies to prevent or treat this prevalent cardiovascular disease.

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