Based on in vitro work with rat liver, we recently suggested that the peroxisomal fraction is most important for the oxidation of 3 alpha, 7 alpha, 12 alpha-trihydroxy-5 beta-cholestanoic acid (THCA) into cholic acid. The cerebro-hepato-renal syndrome of Zellweger is a fatal recessive autosomal disorder, the most characteristic histological feature of which is a virtual absence of peroxisomes in liver and kidneys. This disease offers a unique opportunity to evaluate the relative importance of peroxisomes in bile acid biosynthesis. A child with Zellweger syndrome was studied in the present work. In accordance with previous work, there was a considerable accumulation of THCA, 3 alpha, 7 alpha, 12 alpha, 24-tetrahydroxy-5 beta-cholestanoic acid (24-OH-THCA), 3 alpha, 7 alpha, 12 alpha-trihydroxy-27-carboxymethyl-5 beta-cholestan-26-oic acid (C29-dicarboxylic acid), and 3 alpha, 7 alpha-dihydroxy-5 beta-cholestanoic acid in serum. In addition, a tetrahydroxylated 5 beta-cholestanoic acid with all the hydroxyl groups in the steroid nucleus was found. 3H-Labeled 5 beta-cholestane-3 alpha, 7 alpha, 12 alpha-triol was administered intravenously together with 14C-labeled cholic acid. There was a rapid incorporation of 3H in THCA and a slow incorporation into cholic acid. The specific radioactivity of 3H in THCA was about one magnitude higher than that in cholic acid. The conversion was evaluated by following the increasing ratio between 3H and 14C in biliary cholic acid. The rate of incorporation of 3H in cholic acid was considerably less than previously reported in experiments with healthy subjects, and the maximal conversion of the triol into cholic acid was only 15-20%. About the same rate of conversion was found after oral administration of 3H-THCA. Both in the experiment with 3H-5 beta-cholestane-3 alpha, 7 alpha, 12 alpha-triol and with 3H-THCA, there was an efficient incorporation of 3H in the above unidentified tetrahydroxylated 5 beta-cholestanoic acid. There was only slow incorporation of radioactivity into 24-OH-THCA and into the C29-dicarboxylic acid. From the specific activity decay curve of 14C in cholic acid obtained after intravenous injection of 14C-cholic acid, the pool size of cholic acid was calculated to be 24 mg/m2 and the daily production rate to 9 mg/m2 per d. This corresponds to a reduction of approximately 85 and 90%, respectively, when compared with normal infants. It is concluded that liver peroxisomes are essential in the normal conversion of THCA to cholic acid. In the Zellweger syndrome this conversion is defective and as a consequence the accumulated THCA is either excreted as such or transformed into other metabolites by hydroxylation or side chain elongation. The accumulation of THCA, as well as the similar rate of conversion of 5 beta-cholestane-3 alpha,7 alpha.12 alpha-triol and THCA into cholic acid, support the contention that the 26-hydroxylase pathway with intermediate formation of THCA is the most important pathway for formation of cholic acid in man.
B F Kase, I Björkhem, P Hågå, J I Pedersen