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J Biol Chem. 2001 Feb 2;276(5):3054-9. Epub 2000 Oct 20.

7-ketocholesterol is an endogenous modulator for the arylhydrocarbon receptor.

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  • 1Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario M5G 1X5, Canada.


We have identified 7-ketocholesterol (7-KC) as an endogenous modulator that inhibits transactivation by the arylhydrocarbon receptor (AhR) through competitive binding against xenobiotic ligands. 7-KC binds AhR and displaces labeled dioxin (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo(p)dioxin (TCDD)). IC(50) is 5 x 10(-7) m in vivo and 7 x 10(-6) m in vitro. These figures are consistent with its concentration in human blood plasma and tissues. Association with 7-KC prevents AhR binding to DNA. 7-KC blocks the TCDD-mediated transactivation of stably expressed reporter gene constructs in T47-D cells as well as the expression of the endogenous CYP 1A1 gene in HepG2 cells and in primary porcine aortic endothelial cells. Injection of 7-KC to rats blocks the induction of CYP 1A1 messenger RNA and protein in endothelial cells from myocardial blood vessels. The differential sensitivity of mammalian species to toxic effects of AhR ligands, especially dioxin (TCDD), correlates with the expression of 7-hydroxycholesterol dehydrogenase, which synthesizes 7-KC from 7-hydroxycholesterol. The documented involvement of AhR ligands in cardiovascular diseases through lipid peroxidation and endothelium dysfunction can now be examined in the context of displacement of this protective modulator.

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