Cholesterol metabolism in fibroblasts from rabbits resistant to diet-induced hypercholesterolemia

M. R. Soma, J. D. Morrisett, A. M. Gotto, D. S. Loose-Mitchell, J. A. Poorman, S. A. Smith, M. L. Overturf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We have previously described a colony of New Zealand White rabbits that are resistant to hypercholesterolemia when fed a cholesterol-enriched diet. The present studies used skin fibroblasts obtained from normal and hypercholesterolemia-resistant rabbits to investigate cholesterol metabolism and lipid composition in vitro. The lipid compositions of the two cell lines after incubation in either fetal calf serum or lipoprotein-deficient serum were similar. The conversion of radiolabeled acetate into sterol and phospholipids was higher in resistant fibroblasts than in normal fibroblasts. In contrast, incorporation of radiolabeled oleic acid into cholesteryl ester was significantly lower in resistant fibroblasts than in normal cells. In parallel experiments, the 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase activity was higher and acyl-coenzyme A:cholesterol acyltransferase activity was lower in resistant cells compared to normal cells. Furthermore, binding, uptake, and degradation of normal rabbit 125I-labeled LDL (low density lipoproteins) were 30% higher in resistant than in normal fibroblasts. These observations are consistent with results from previous studies of cholesterol metabolism in the liver membranes of these rabbits. The results indicate that extrahepatic cells (such as fibroblasts) from the resistant rabbit exhibit the same altered cholesterol metabolism as that found in the hepatic tissues of these rabbits. These studies suggest that the resistant rabbit may provide an in vivo and in vitro system for studying the mechanisms by which some individuals of a species can minimize the effect of dietary cholesterol on the development of hypercholesterolemia and atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)985-994
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of lipid research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1990


  • ACAT
  • fibroblasts
  • HMG-CoA reductase
  • LDL receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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