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Unavailability of liver triacylglycerol increases serum cholesterol concentration induced by dietary cholesterol in exogenously hypercholesterolemic (ExHC) rats

Yasutake Tanaka, Koji Nagao, Hideaki Nakagiri, Toshirou Nagaso, Yasue Iwasa, Haruhiko Mori, Makoto Asahina, Katsumi Imaizumi and Masao Sato*

Author Affiliations

Laboratory of Nutrition Chemistry, Division of Bioresource and Bioenvironmental Sciences, Graduate School, Kyushu University, 6-10-1 hakozaki, higashi-ku, Fukuoka 812-8581, Japan

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Lipids in Health and Disease 2014, 13:19  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-13-19

Published: 22 January 2014



Exogenously hypercholesterolemic (ExHC) rats develop hypercholesterolemia and low hepatic triacylglycerol (TAG) levels when dietary cholesterol is loaded. The responsible gene Smek2 was identified via linkage analysis using the original strain Sprague–Dawley (SD) rats. In this study, we compared SD and ExHC rats to investigate a relationship between hypercholesterolemia and the low hepatic TAG levels observed in ExHC rats.


Male 4-weeks-old ExHC and SD rats were fed a 1% cholesterol diet for 1 week. Serum and liver parameters were analyzed. Gene expression and enzyme activities related to TAG metabolism were also assessed.


We reproducibly observed higher serum cholesterol and lower hepatic TAG levels in ExHC rats than in SD rats. Golgi apparatus in the livers of ExHC rats secreted β-very-low-density lipoprotein (β-VLDL) that had higher cholesterol ester (CE) and lower TAG content than those in the β-VLDL secreted by SD rats. Gene expression related to fatty acid and TAG synthesis in ExHC rats was lower than that in SD rats. Enzymatic activities for fatty acid synthesis were also relatively lower in ExHC rats. Moreover, the fatty acid composition of hepatic and serum CE in ExHC rats showed that these CEs were not modified after secretion from the liver despite the similar activities of serum lecithin-cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) in ExHC rats to those in SD rats.


Low production of liver TAG and secretion of CE-rich, TAG-poor β-VLDL without modification by LCAT in the circulation contributed to hypercholesterolemia induced by dietary cholesterol in ExHC rats.

Hypercholesterolemia; ExHC rats; Triacylglycerol; Fatty acid synthase; Golgi apparatus; β-VLDL