Dietary cholesterol absorption, and sterol and bile acid excretion in hypercholesterolemia-resistant white rabbits

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The New Zealand white (NZW) rabbit fed a 0.1% cholesterol-enriched diet (CD) typically responds (normoresponsive, NR) by quickly developing hypercholesterolemia. To study the underlying mechanisms responsible for the widespread phenomenon of inter-individual variability of response to dietary cholesterol, a unique hypercholesterolemia-resistant (RT) rabbit model was developed. These animals were utilized to investigate selected potential mechanisms that might enable the RT animal to compensate for dietary cholesterol overload. When rabbits were fed the low-cholesterol stock diet, there was no significant difference in the plasma cholesterol concentrations of the NR and the RT animals. However, a significant rise was observed in the NR rabbits within 1 month of their being placed on the cholesterol-enriched diet; the plasma cholesterol concentration of the RT animals was not affected. During consumption of the cholesterol diet the cholesterol absorption rate was somewhat greater in the NR rabbits (P < 0.05), whereas intestinal transit times and the fecal excretion of neutral steroids were substantially the same in both groups. In contrast, the fecal bile acid excretion of the RT animals was more than twice as great (P < 0.0001) as that of the NR animals. We conclude that the response to dietary cholesterol is a heritable trait in these rabbits and that, although less dietary cholesterol was absorbed by the RT animals, it appears that a major mechanism controlling plasma cholesterol levels involves the rate of conversion of cholesterol to bile acids and their subsequent excretion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2019-2027
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of lipid research
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1990


  • cholesterol diet
  • deoxycholic acid
  • fecal excretion
  • lithocholic acid
  • plasma cholesterol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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