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J Lipid Res. 1966 Jan;7(1):77-82.

Catabolism and elimination of cholesterol in germfree rats.


Three-month old germfree and conventional male rats were maintained on a complete steam-sterilized, semisynthetic diet. After intravenous injection of cholesterol-26-(14)C the animals were housed in a plastic metabolism chamber for 72 hr. Expired CO(2) was collected throughout the period. The conventional rats released 50% more (14)C as (14)CO(2) than the germfree animals. The total amount of the label recovered as (14)CO(2) during the 72 hr period amounted to 30% and 19% respectively, of the original dose. In both conventional and germfree rats the release of (14)CO(2) accounted for approximately 75% of the (14)C recovered in forms other than the original cholesterol-26-(14)C; 15-20% was found incorporated in water-soluble and fat-soluble fractions other than 3Beta-OH sterol of liver and carcass while the remainder was excreted with feces and urine. After the 72 hr period the specific activities of the cholesterol in plasma and liver were lower in conventional than in germfree animals. The data express the accelerating effect of the intestinal microflora on systemic cholesterol catabolism. They demonstrate that the release of (14)CO(2) from cholesterol-26-(14)C in the intact rat is a suitable and convenient indicator of the oxidative catabolism of cholesterol.

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