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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Inverse relationship between plasma cholestanol concentrations and bile acid synthesis in sitosterolemia.

We investigated the relationship between plasma cholestanol (5 alpha-dihydrocholesterol) concentrations and the activity and mRNA levels of cholesterol 7 alpha-hydroxylase, the rate-controlling enzyme for bile acid synthesis, in three female sitosterolemic homozygotes. In this lipid storage disease, large amounts of plant sterols and cholestanol accumulate because of hyperabsorption and endogenous synthesis, respectively. Plasma cholestanol concentrations were 14 times greater in the three sitosterolemic homozygotes than the mean for five control subjects. To investigate the cholestanol biosynthetic pathway, tracer doses of two putative precursors, [1,2-3H]4-cholesten-3-one and [4-14C]7 alpha-hydroxycholesterol were injected intravenously into a homozygote, and radioactivity was sought in cholestanol, bile acids, cholesterol, and sitosterol fractions isolated from plasma and bile. Tritium was concentrated only in cholestanol; neither cholesterol, sitosterol nor bile acids were derived from [1,2-3H]4-cholesten-3-one. In contrast, bile acids were labeled exclusively with 14C from [4-14C]7 alpha-hydroxycholesterol; no 14C radioactivity was detected in cholestanol. Mathematical analysis of specific activity versus time curves for [3H]cholestanol revealed very slow decay, large exchangeable pools, and enhanced synthesis in the sitosterolemic homozygote. Measurements of cholesterol 7 alpha-hydroxylase activity were 39% lower in whole liver microsomes from three sitosterolemic homozygotes that contained 19% plant sterols as compared to the mean value for six control microsomal specimens that contained 0.1% plant sterols. Removal of the excess plant sterols from the microsomes, in vitro, normalized microsomal cholesterol 7 alpha-hydroxylase activity in the homozygotes but did not affect enzyme activity in the controls. Equal amounts of cholesterol 7 alpha-hydroxylase mRNA were detected in the livers of both control and sitosterolemic subjects. Bile acid malabsorption after ileal bypass surgery stimulated cholesterol 7 alpha-hydroxylase activity 78% in sitosterolemic whole liver microsomes and reduced plasma cholesterol, sitosterol, and cholestanol levels 61%, 55% and 91%, respectively, producing a pronounced decrease in the cholestanol/cholesterol ratio without changing the sitosterol/cholesterol ratio. These results demonstrate that increased cholestanol is synthesized from 4-cholesten-3-one and not 7 alpha-hydroxycholesterol in sitosterolemia. Enhanced pools and plasma concentrations are related inversely to hepatic cholesterol 7 alpha-hydroxylase activity. Competitive inhibition of cholesterol 7 alpha-hydroxylase by the large microsomal plant sterol pool diverts cholesterol into cholestanol. Alternatively, stimulating cholesterol 7 alpha-hydroxylase activity after ileal bypass surgery markedly diminished plasma cholestanol levels.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)[1]


  1. Inverse relationship between plasma cholestanol concentrations and bile acid synthesis in sitosterolemia. Salen, G., Batta, A.K., Tint, G.S., Shefer, S., Ness, G.C. J. Lipid Res. (1994) [Pubmed]
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