Cholesterol ester-rich (CER) VLDL accumulate rapidly in the plasma of rabbits fed cholesterol-enriched diets. However, the major loci of enhanced synthesis of subfractions of CER-VLDL, their interaction with macrophages, and their relative contribution to atherogenesis have not yet been elucidated. To determine whether anabolism is hepatic or intestinal, subfractions of CER-VLDL were characterized at selected intervals from day 0 to 60 of cholesterol feeding. Rate zonal ultracentrifugation of CER-VLDL from rabbits fed cholesterol for 4 and 60 d demonstrated an early increase of the proportion of cholesterol carried in the intestinally-derived fraction (designated as Fx-I) of VLDL compared with that in hepatically-derived particles (Fx-H). Quantification by size exclusion HPLC also demonstrated that Fx-I was a prominent CER-VLDL component at day 4, while Fx-H particles became increasingly prominent with further cholesterol feeding. At both 4 and 60 d Fx-I stimulated cholesterol esterification and intracellular cholesterol content in macrophages more than the corresponding Fx-H did. In fact, Fx-H harvested at 4 d produced no cholesterol ester deposition. In contrast, Fx-H harvested at 60 d markedly stimulated cholesterol esterification and intracellular cholesterol content. Thus, both compositional and metabolic characteristics of CER-VLDL changed as a function of the duration cholesterol feeding.
A Daugherty, K Oida, B E Sobel, G Schonfeld