Lecithin cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) is an enzyme involved in the intravascular metabolism of high density lipoproteins (HDLs). Overexpression of human LCAT (hLCAT) in transgenic rabbits leads to gene dose-dependent increases of total and HDL cholesterol concentrations. To elucidate the mechanisms responsible for this effect, 131I-HDL apoA-I kinetics were assessed in age- and sex-matched groups of rabbits (n=3 each) with high, low, or no hLCAT expression. Mean total and HDL cholesterol concentrations (mg/dl), respectively, were 162+/-18 and 121+/-12 for high expressors (HE), 55+/-6 and 55+/-10 for low expressors (LE), and 29+/-2 and 28+/-4 for controls. Fast protein liquid chromatography analysis of plasma revealed that the HDL of both HE and LE were cholesteryl ester and phospholipid enriched, as compared with controls, with the greatest differences noted between HE and controls. These compositional changes resulted in an incremental shift in apparent HDL particle size which correlated directly with the level of hLCAT expression, such that HE had the largest HDL particles and controls the smallest. In vivo kinetic experiments demonstrated that the fractional catabolic rate(FCR, d(-1)) of apoA-I was slowest in HE (0.328+/-0.03) followed by LE (0.408+/-0.01) and, lastly, by controls (0.528+/-0.04). ApoA-I FCR was inversely associated with HDL cholesterol level (r=-0.851,P<0.01) and hLCAT activity (r=-0.816, P<0.01). These data indicate that fractional catabolic rate is the predominant mechanism by which hLCAT overexpression differentially modulates HDL concentrations in this animal model. We hypothesize that LCAT-induced changes in HDL composition and size ultimately reduce apoA-I catabolism by altering apoA-I conformation and/or HDL particle regeneration.
M E Brousseau, S Santamarina-Fojo, L A Zech, A M Bérard, B L Vaisman, S M Meyn, D Powell, H B Brewer Jr, J M Hoeg