This study was undertaken to determine potential tissue sources of plasma cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP), and to assess the influence of CETP on lipoprotein concentrations and atherosclerosis. In a group of 28 cynomolgus monkeys fed high fat, high cholesterol diets, plasma CETP concentration was strongly correlated with the abundance of CETP mRNA in liver and in adipose tissue, and with the output of CETP in liver perfusates. Plasma CETP concentration showed a strong inverse correlation with HDL cholesterol concentrations (r = -0.62, P less than 0.001) and a positive correlation with LDL cholesterol concentration (r = 0.54, P less than 0.005) and molecular weight (r = 0.57, P less than 0.001). The extent of coronary artery atherosclerosis was positively correlated with LDL cholesterol concentration and molecular weight, and with plasma CETP concentration. Thus, in monkeys fed an atherogenic diet, individual variation in CETP mRNA abundance in liver and adipose tissue probably plays a major role in the determination of plasma CETP levels. In plasma, CETP influences the distribution of cholesteryl esters between LDL and HDL, and CETP concentration appears to be a key determinant of the relative atherogenicity of the plasma lipoproteins.
E Quinet, A Tall, R Ramakrishnan, L Rudel