Molecular mechanisms of altered cholesterol metabolism in rats with spontaneous focal glomerulosclerosis.

Research paper by Nosratola D ND Vaziri, Tadashi T Sato, Kaihui K Liang

Indexed on: 05 Apr '03Published on: 05 Apr '03Published in: Kidney International


Imai rats exhibit spontaneous focal glomerulosclerosis (FGS), which is marked by heavy proteinuria, severe hyperlipidemia, and progressive renal insufficiency beginning at 8 to 10 weeks of age. In an earlier study, we reported severe skeletal muscle and adipose tissue lipoprotein lipase, and very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) receptor deficiencies, which account for elevated plasma VLDL and triglycerides in Imai rats at 34 weeks of age. In this study, we investigated key factors involved in cholesterol metabolism.Male Imai and Sprague-Dawley control rats were fed a regular rat chow and observed from age 8 through 34 weeks. Hepatic 3-hydroxy-3 methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase, cholesterol 7alpha-hydroxylase, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor and acyl Co A:cholesterol acyltransferase (ACAT) were measured by Western blot and plasma lecithin:cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) protein was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).At 34 weeks of age, the Imai rats showed severe proteinuria, hypoalbuminemia, 60% reduction in glomerular filtration rate (GFR), elevated plasma total and LDL cholesterol and LDL/high-density lipoprotein (HDL) ratio. Imai rats showed a twofold elevation of hepatic HMG-CoA reductase, the rate-limiting step in cholesterol biosynthesis, but no significant change in cholesterol 7alpha-hydroxylase, the rate-limiting enzyme in cholesterol catabolism to bile acids. This was accompanied by and largely due to a threefold down-regulation of hepatic LDL receptor, which limits hepatic uptake of LDL; and a threefold up-regulation of hepatic ACAT (P < 0.01), which augments esterification of hepatocyte free cholesterol, thus, limiting cholesterol-mediated feedback regulation of cholesterol synthesis and catabolism. Moreover, plasma LCAT concentration was severely depressed (by fourfold) in Imai rats. This abnormality can impair HDL-mediated cholesterol transport from extrahepatic tissues to the liver.The study revealed marked abnormalities of the key proteins involved in regulation of hepatic cholesterol metabolism. These abnormalities can account for severe dysregulation of cholesterol metabolism in Imai rats with spontaneous FGS, which closely resembles FGS in humans.