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Sitosterolemia is a recessively inherited disorder characterized by abnormally increased plasma and tissue plant sterol concentrations. Patients have markedly reduced whole body cholesterol biosynthesis associated with suppressed hepatic, ileal, and mononuclear leukocyte 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase, the rate-controlling enzyme in cholesterol biosynthetic pathway, coupled with significantly increased low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor expression. To investigate the mechanism of down-regulated cholesterol biosynthesis, we assayed several other key enzymes in the cholesterol biosynthetic pathway including acetoacetyl-CoA thiolase, HMG-CoA synthase, squalene synthase, and 7-dehydrocholesterol delta7-reductase activities in liver and freshly isolated mononuclear leukocytes from four sitosterolemic patients and 19 controls. Hepatic acetoacetyl-CoA thiolase, HMG-CoA synthase, reductase, and squalene synthase activities were significantly decreased (P < 0.05) -39%, -54%, -76%, and -57%, respectively, and 7-dehydrocholesterol delta7-reductase activity tended to be lower (-35%) in the sitosterolemic compared with control subjects. The reduced HMG-CoA synthase, reductase, and squalene synthase activities were also found in mononuclear leukocytes from a sitosterolemic patient. Thus, reduced cholesterol synthesis is caused not only by decreased HMG-CoA reductase but also by the coordinate down-regulation of entire pathway of cholesterol biosynthesis. These results suggest that inadequate cholesterol production in sitosterolemia is due to abnormal down-regulation of early, intermediate, and late enzymes in the cholesterol biosynthetic pathway rather than a single inherited defect in the HMG-CoA reductase gene.

Citation

A Honda, G Salen, L B Nguyen, G S Tint, A K Batta, S Shefer. Down-regulation of cholesterol biosynthesis in sitosterolemia: diminished activities of acetoacetyl-CoA thiolase, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA synthase, reductase, squalene synthase, and 7-dehydrocholesterol delta7-reductase in liver and mononuclear leukocytes. Journal of lipid research. 1998 Jan;39(1):44-50

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PMID: 9469584

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