Low density lipoprotein receptor-independent hepatic uptake of a synthetic, cholesterol-scavenging lipoprotein: Implications for the treatment of receptor-deficient atherosclerosis
The metabolism of infused 111In-labeled phospholipid liposomes was examined in Watanabe heritable hyperlipidemic (WHHL) rabbits, which lack low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors, and in normal control rabbits. The half-times (t1/2) for clearance of 111In and excess phospholipid from plasma were 20.8 +/- 0.9 hr and 20.3 +/- 4.6 hr in WHHL and 20.0 +/- 0.8 hr and 19.6 +/- 2.2 hr in the normal rabbits (means +/- SEM; n = 4). By 6 hr postinfusion, the plasma concentration of unesterified cholesterol increased by 2.2 +/- 0.23 mmol/liter in WHHL and 2.1 +/- 0.04 mmol/liter in normal rabbits, presumably reflecting mobilization of tissue stores. Disappearance of excess plasma cholesterol was greater than 90% complete in both groups of rabbits by 70 hr postinfusion. By quantitative gamma camera imaging, hepatic trapping of 111In-labeled liposomes over time was indistinguishable between the two groups. At autopsy, the liver was the major organ of clearance, acquiring 22.0% +/- 1.7% (WHHL) and 16.8% +/- 1.0% (normal of total 111In. Aortic uptake of 111In was less than 0.02%. Thus, mobilization of cholesterol and hepatic uptake of phospholipid liposomes do not require LDL receptors. Because phospholipid infusions produce rapid substantial regression of atherosclerosis in genetically normal animals, our results suggest that phospholipid liposomes or triglyceride phospholipid emulsions (e.g., Intralipid) might reduce atherosclerosis in WHHL rabbits and in humans with familial hypercholesterolemia.