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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2009 Feb;113(3-5):222-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2009.01.003. Epub 2009 Jan 20.

Serum cholesterol and expression of ApoAI, LXRbeta and SREBP2 in vitamin D receptor knock-out mice.

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Department of Anatomy, Medical School, University of Tampere, Medisiinarinkatu 3, Tampere, Finland.


Vitamin D insufficiency has been reported to be associated with increased blood cholesterol concentrations. Here we used two strains of VDR knock-out (VDR-KO) mice to study whether a lack of vitamin D action has any effect on cholesterol metabolism. In 129S1 mice, both in male and female VDR-KO mice serum total cholesterol levels were significantly higher than those in wild type (WT) mice (20.7% (P=0.05) and 22.2% (P=0.03), respectively). In addition, the serum high-density lipoprotein-bound cholesterol (HDL-C) level was 22% (P=0.03), respectively higher in male VDR-KO mice than in WT mice. The mRNA expression levels of five cholesterol metabolism related genes in livers of 129S1 mice were studied using quantitative real-time PCR (QRT-PCR): ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1), regulatory element binding protein (SREBP2), apolipoprotein A-I (ApoAI), low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) and liver X receptor beta (LXRbeta). In the mutant male mice, the mRNA level of ApoAI and LXRbeta were 49.2% (P=0.005) and 38.8% (P=0.034) higher than in the WT mice. These changes were not observed in mutant female mice, but the female mutant mice showed 52.5% (P=0.006) decrease of SREBP2 mRNA expression compared to WT mice. Because the mutant mice were fed with a special rescue diet, we wanted to test whether the increased cholesterol levels in mutant mice were due to the diet. Both the WT and mutant NMRI mice were given the same diet for 3 weeks before the blood sampling. No difference in cholesterol or in HDL-C between WT and mutant mice was found. The results suggest that the food, gender and genetic background have an effect on the cholesterol metabolism. Although VDR seems to regulate some of the genes involved in cholesterol metabolism, its role in the regulation of serum cholesterol seems to be minimal.

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