In vivo protection against endotoxin by plasma high density lipoprotein
Overwhelming bacterial infection is accompanied by fever, hypotension, disseminated intravascular coagulation, and multiple organ failure leading to death in 30-80% of cases. These classical symptoms of septic shock are caused by potent cytokines that are produced in response to endotoxin released from Gram-negative bacteria. Treatments with antibodies and receptor antagonists to block endotoxin or cytokine mediators have given mixed results in clinical trials. High density lipoprotein (HDL) is a natural component of plasma that is known to neutralize endotoxin in vitro. We report here that raising the plasma HDL concentration protects mice against endotoxin in vivo. Transgenic mice with 2-fold-elevated plasma HDL levels had more endotoxin bound to HDL, lower plasma cytokine levels, and improved survival rates compared with low-HDL mice. Intravenous infusion of HDL also protected mice, but only when given as reconstituted HDL prepared from phospholipid and either HDL apoprotein or an 18-amino acid peptide synthesized to mimic the structure of apolipoprotein A-I of HDL. Intact plasma HDL was mildly toxic, and HDL apoprotein was ineffective. The effectiveness of the reconstituted peptide renders very unlikely any significant contribution to protection by trace proteins in apo-HDL. These data suggest a simple leaflet insertion model for binding and neutralization of lipopolysaccharide by phospholipid on the surface of HDL. Plasma HDL may normally act to protect against endotoxin; this protection may be augmented by administration of reconstituted HDL or reconstituted peptides.