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Metabolism. 1988 Apr;37(4):346-51.

The effect of abnormal plasma and cellular sterol content and composition on low density lipoprotein uptake and degradation by monocytes and lymphocytes in sitosterolemia with xanthomatosis.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey--New Jersey Medical School, Newark 07103.


The hypothesis that abnormal low density lipoprotein (LDL) sterol content and composition in sitosterolemia with xanthomatosis affects LDL uptake and/or degradation was tested. Monocytes and lymphocytes from three patients and 12 age- and sex-matched controls were incubated at 37 degrees C in lipid-free medium with 125I-labeled LDL prepared from sitosterolemic patients (LDLs) and controls (LDLn) in the presence or absence of excess unlabeled lipoproteins. Normal monocytes and lymphocytes took up and degraded LDLs 13% to 30% less than LDLn (P less than .05). Sitosterolemic monocytes and lymphocytes degraded LDLn 13% and LDLs 67% more actively than control cells (P less than .05). Sitosterolemic monocytes contained three times more sterols and stanols than controls (P less than .01), of which 12% were plant sterols and 2% were 5 alpha-saturated stanols. In one patient, stimulating bile acid synthesis by ileal bypass surgery reduced plasma and monocyte sterol and stanol concentrations about 60%, and was associated with a 40% to 50% increase in LDLn and LDLs receptor-mediated degradation. The decreased uptake and degradation of LDLs relative to LDLn by normal cells suggest that abnormal plant sterols in LDLs may reduce its affinity for the native LDL receptor. Increased receptor-mediated uptake and degradation of LDLs by sitosterolemic cells in the presence of high cellular sterol content may result from failure of the sitosterolemic cells to down-regulate LDL receptor synthesis. Ileal bypass surgery increased cellular LDL receptor activity, reduced plasma and cellular sterol concentrations, and may diminish the risk of premature atherosclerosis in sitosterolemia.

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