Flavonoids are a class of chemically related polyphenols that are nearly ubiquitous in nature. Of the more-than 4000 flavonoids thus identified, citrus fruit-derived flavonoids are suggested to have an inverse association with the occurrence of coronary heart disease via their ability to reduce plasma cholesterol concentrations. Our current studies examined whether citrus flavonoids possess an additional antiatherogenic effect by modulating macrophage metabolism of the specific class A scavenger receptor (SR-A) ligand, acetylated LDL (acLDL). In this study, both acLDL-metabolism and SR-A expression by cultured murine J774A.1 macrophages was examined following 24 h pretreatment (100 microM) with the flavonoids: naringenin (from grapefruit), hesperetin (from oranges), and tangeretin and nobiletin (from tangerines). Of these flavonoids, only nobiletin inhibited (50-72%) acLDL metabolism as measured by both cellular cholesterol ester mass and [3H]oleate incorporation into cholesterol esters. This nobiletin-mediated effect was specific for SR-A and not a global effect on lipoprotein metabolism by the macrophage, as all four citrus flavonoids significantly reduce the metabolism of beta-VLDL, which is primarily taken up by macrophages via the LDL receptor. Nevertheless, nobiletin did not affect SR-A protein expression, as measured by Western blot analysis, nor was cell surface expression of SR-A affected as measured by 4 degrees C binding studies using [125I]acLDL. In conclusion, our findings suggest that in addition to reducing plasma cholesterol concentrations, nobiletin may prevent atherosclerosis at the level of the vascular wall by inhibiting macrophage foam-cell formation.
Whitman SC, Kurowska EM, Manthey JA, Daugherty A. Nobiletin, a citrus flavonoid isolated from tangerines, selectively inhibits class A scavenger receptor-mediated metabolism of acetylated LDL by mouse macrophages. Atherosclerosis. 2005 January Laboratory Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Department of Pathology, University of Ottawa Heart Institute, 40 Ruskin St., Room H259A, Ottawa, Ont., Canada.