Cholesterol metabolism in hypercholesterolemia-resistant rabbits

David S. Loose-Mitchell, Julie A. Poorman, Sheryl A. Smith, Merrill L. Overturf, Joel D. Morrisett, Antonio Gotto, Maurizio R. Soma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Normal rabbits typically respond to a diet high in cholesterol with a large increase in the concentration of plasma cholesterol. We have previously described the breeding and partial characterization of a variant rabbit which does not respond to a high cholesterol diet with changes in plasma cholesterol concentration. In the present report we have characterized three components involved in cholesterol homeostasis: the B E (LDL) receptor, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase activity (HMG-CoA reductase, EC and acyl-coenzyme A : cholesterol acyltransferase activity (ACAT, EC in the livers of the hypercholesterolemia-resistant rabbits. Using normal cholesterol-fed rabbit [125I]β-VLDL as a ligand, liver membranes prepared from resistant rabbits fed a low-cholesterol diet had 70% higher binding capacity than membranes from normal rabbits fed the same diet. Similar experiments demonstrated that the resistant rabbits had a 240% higher B E receptor binding capacity compared to normal animals when liver membranes were prepared from animals fed a 0.25% cholesterol-enriched diet. No difference in the binding affinity of [125I]β-VLDL was detected in membranes prepared from normal or resistant animals. When fed a low-cholesterol diet, the resistant rabbits had approximately 2-fold higher hepatic HMG-CoA reductase activity (97.4 ± 3.5 pmol product/mg/min in resistant animals compared to 45 ± 1.1 pmol product/min/mg in normal animals). The difference was exaggerated in animals fed the 0.25% cholesterol-enriched diet, 73.3 ± 5.5 vs 2.4 ± 0.56 pmol product/min/mg for resistant and normal membranes respectively. The basal activity of ACAT in hepatic membranes was significantly lower in the resistant rabbits compared to normal rabbits (138 ± 11 vs 268 ± 19 pmol cholesteryl ester/min/mg in resistant and normal rabbits respectively); when fed a 0.25% cholesterol-enriched diet, the enzyme was induced 6-fold in normal animals but was increased only 2-fold in the resistant animal. These biochemical data suggested that the resistant rabbit maintained low intracellular cholesterol even when fed a cholesterol-enriched diet. Direct measurement of cellular cholesterol and cholesteryl esters demonstrated that the concentration of these lipids was significantly lower in the resistant animal than in normal animals with the largest differences found in the cytoplasmic rather than the membrane compartment. These studies demonstrate that the resistant rabbit manifests several quantitative differences in cholesterol metabolism and in the regulation of cholesterol metabolism; but these studies do not directly explain the underlying cause of the resistance to hypercholesterolemia in the resistant rabbit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-181
Number of pages13
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Apr 1991


  • (Rabbits)
  • Acyl-CoA : cholesterol acyltransfersase
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Cholesterol metabolism
  • HMG-CoA reductase
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • LDL receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Cholesterol metabolism in hypercholesterolemia-resistant rabbits'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this