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Drug Metab Dispos. 2011 Jun;39(6):966-73. doi: 10.1124/dmd.111.038562. Epub 2011 Mar 2.

Suppression of cytochrome P450 reductase (POR) expression in hepatoma cells replicates the hepatic lipidosis observed in hepatic POR-null mice.

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  • 1Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of Kentucky, 789 S. Limestone St., Lexington, KY 40536-0596, USA. tporter@email.uky.edu


Cytochrome P450 reductase (POR) is a microsomal electron transport protein essential to cytochrome P450-mediated drug metabolism and sterol and bile acid synthesis. The conditional deletion of hepatic POR gene expression in mice results in a marked decrease in plasma cholesterol levels counterbalanced by the accumulation of triglycerides in lipid droplets in hepatocytes. To evaluate the role of cholesterol and bile acid synthesis in this hepatic lipidosis, as well as the possible role of lipid transport from peripheral tissues, we developed a stable, small interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated cell culture model for the suppression of POR. POR mRNA and protein expression were decreased by greater than 50% in McArdle-RH7777 rat hepatoma cells 10 days after transfection with a POR-siRNA expression plasmid, and POR expression was nearly completely extinguished by day 20. Immunofluorescent analysis revealed a marked accumulation of lipid droplets in cells by day 15, accompanied by a nearly 2-fold increase in cellular triglyceride content, replicating the lipidosis seen in hepatic POR-null mouse liver. In contrast, suppression of CYP51A1 (lanosterol demethylase) did not result in lipid accumulation, indicating that loss of cholesterol synthesis is not the basis for this lipidosis. Indeed, addition of cholesterol to the medium appeared to augment the lipidosis in POR-suppressed cells, whereas removal of lipids from the medium reversed the lipidosis. Oxysterols did not accumulate in POR-suppressed cells, discounting a role for liver X receptor in stimulating triglyceride synthesis, but addition of chenodeoxycholate significantly repressed lipid accumulation, suggesting that the absence of bile acids and loss of farnesoid X receptor stimulation lead to excessive triglyceride synthesis.

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