Long-term incubation of proteins with glucose leads to the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that are recognized by AGE receptors. Glyoxal, glycolaldehyde (GA), and methylglyoxal are potential intermediates for the formation of AGE structures such as Nomega-(carboxymethyl)lysine (CML). We evaluated the contribution of these aldehydes to the formation of AGE structure(s), particularly the structure important for the receptor-mediated endocytic uptake of AGE proteins by macrophages. GA-modified bovine serum albumin (BSA), methylglyoxal-modified BSA (MG-BSA), and glyoxal-modified BSA (GO-BSA) were prepared, and their physicochemical, immunological, and biologic properties were compared with those of glucose-derived AGE-BSA. CML contents were high in GO-BSA and low in GA-modified BSA (GA-BSA) but did not exist in MG-BSA. The fluorescence patterns of GA-BSA and MG-BSA were similar to those of glucose-derived AGE-BSA but were weak in GO-BSA. Immunochemically, the antibody against non-CML structures of glucose-derived AGE-BSA reacted strongly with GA-BSA and weakly with GO-BSA but did not react with MG-BSA. The negative charge of these ligands increased to a similar extent. However, GA-BSA, but not MG-BSA or GO-BSA, underwent receptor-mediated endocytosis by the macrophage-derived cell line RAW 264.7, which was effectively inhibited by glucose-derived AGE-BSA, acetylated LDL, and oxidized LDL, which are well-known ligands for the macrophage type I and type II class A scavenger receptors (MSR-A). The endocytic uptake of GA-BSA by mouse peritoneal macrophages was also significant, but that by peritoneal macrophages from MSR-A-deficient mice was markedly reduced. Our results suggest that GA serves as an important intermediate for the generation of AGE structure(s) responsible for recognition by MSR-A.

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