Plasma High-Mannose and Complex/Hybrid N-Glycans Are Associated with Hypercholesterolemia in Humans and Rabbits

N-glycans play important roles in various pathophysiological processes and can be used as clinical diagnosis markers. However, plasma N-glycans change and their pathophysiological significance in the setting of hypercholesterolemia, a major risk factor for atherosclerosis, is unknown. Here, we collected plasma from both hypercholesterolemic patients and cholesterol-fed hypercholesterolemic rabbits, and determined the changes in the whole-plasma N-glycan profile by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. We found that both the hypercholesterolemic patients and rabbits showed a dramatic change in their plasma glycan profile. Compared with healthy subjects, the hypercholesterolemic patients exhibited higher plasma levels of a cluster of high-mannose and complex/hybrid N-glycans (mainly including undecorated or sialylated glycans), whereas only a few fucosylated or fucosylated and sialylated N-glycans were increased. Additionally, cholesterol-fed hypercholesterolemic rabbits also displayed increased plasma levels of high-mannose in addition to high complex/hybrid N-glycan levels. The whole-plasma glycan profiles revealed that the plasma N-glycan levels were correlated with the plasma cholesterol levels, implying that N-glycans may be a target for treatment of hypercholesterolemia.