Fond, Chang Sup Lee, Ravichandran and colleagues have now discovered the components of the molecular machinery by which dying cells boost ABCA1 in phagocytes. They discovered that when the phagocytic receptor BAI1 engages the dying cell, this initiates a signal to increase ABCA1. Mice lacking BAI1 had a worse HDL/LDL ratio, while mice that express more BAI1 showed a beneficial effect.
“In mice with greater levels of this receptor BAI1, not only do the phagocytes eat better, they up-regulate ABCA1 and show an improved ratio of HDL versus LDL cholesterol,” Ravichandran said.
Ravichandran, who chairs UVA’s Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology, is working on potential ways to prompt this effect in humans.
The discovery has been described in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The paper’s authors are Fond, Lee, Ira G. Shulman, Robert S. Kiss and Ravichandran