Apolipoprotein E regulates dietary cholesterol absorption and biliary cholesterol excretion: Studies in C57BL/6 apolipoprotein E knockout mice
The present study examined the role of apolipoprotein E (apoE) in the regulation of dietary cholesterol absorption and biliary cholesterol excretion. Increasing dietary cholesterol from 0.02% to 0.5% in C57BL/6 wild-type mice decreased the percentage of dietary cholesterol that is absorbed by 25%, and this decrease was associated with a 2-fold increase in gallbladder biliary cholesterol concentration. In contrast, increasing dietary cholesterol from 0. 02% to 0.5% in C57BL/6 apoE knockout mice produced no significant suppression of the percentage dietary cholesterol absorption and increased gallbladder biliary cholesterol concentration only 16%. Whereas in wild-type mice, the increase in dietary cholesterol increased the hepatic excretion of biliary cholesterol 4-fold, there was only a 2-fold increase in apoE knockout mice. On both the low- and the high-cholesterol diets, whole liver and isolated hepatocyte cholesterol content was higher in the apoE knockout mice. These results suggest that, in response to dietary cholesterol, apoE may play a critical role in decreasing the percentage absorption of dietary cholesterol and increasing biliary cholesterol excretion. These observations suggest a mechanism whereby the absence of apoE contributes to the propensity for tissue cholesterol deposition and accelerated atherogenesis in apoE knockout mice.