Hydroxytyrosol Reduces Foam Cell Formation and Endothelial Inflammation Regulating the PPARγ/LXRα/ABCA1 Pathway.

Sara Franceschelli, Federica De Cecco, Mirko Pesce, Patrizio Ripari, Maria Teresa Guagnano, Arturo Bravo Nuevo, Alfredo Grilli, Silvia Sancilio, Lorenza Speranza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cholesterol accumulation in macrophages leads to the formation of foam cells and increases the risk of developing atherosclerosis. We have verified whether hydroxytyrosol (HT), a phenolic compound with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, can reduce the cholesterol build up in THP-1 macrophage-derived foam cells. We have also investigated the potential mechanisms. Oil Red O staining and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) assays were utilized to detect cellular lipid accumulation and cholesterol content, respectively, in THP-1 macrophages foam cells treated with HT. The impact of HT on cholesterol metabolism-related molecules (SR-A1, CD36, LOX-1, ABCA1, ABCG1, PPARγ and LRX-α) in foam cells was assessed using real-time PCR (RT-qPCR) and Western blot analyses. Finally, the effect of HT on the adhesion of THP-1 monocytes to human vascular endothelial cells (HUVEC) was analyzed to study endothelial activation. We found that HT activates the PPARγ/LXRα pathway to upregulate ABCA1 expression, reducing cholesterol accumulation in foam cells. Moreover, HT significantly inhibited monocyte adhesion and reduced the levels of adhesion factors (ICAM-1 and VCAM-1) and pro-inflammatory factors (IL-6 and TNF-α) in LPS-induced endothelial cells. Taken together, our findings suggest that HT, with its ability to interfere with the import and export of cholesterol, could represent a new therapeutic strategy for the treatment of atherosclerotic disease.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
StatePublished - Jan 20 2023


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter 1
  • Cholesterol
  • Endothelial Cells
  • Foam Cells
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Liver X Receptors
  • PPAR gamma


  • Medicine and Health Sciences

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