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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1990 Apr 2;1043(2):123-8.

Abnormal cholesterol metabolism in imipramine-treated fibroblast cultures. Similarities with Niemann-Pick type C disease.

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Department of Biochemistry, INSERM U 189, Faculté de Médecine Lyon-Sud Oullins, France.


Addition of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) to cholesterol-deprived human skin fibroblast cultures treated by imipramine at a 20 microM concentration induced a significant intracellular accumulation of unesterified cholesterol. Intracytoplasmic inclusions were already visible by histochemical filipin staining after 2 h of LDL uptake and were progressively mobilized towards the perinuclear region within 24 h. At this concentration of the drug, the rate of proteolytic 125I-LDL hydrolysis was similar in treated and untreated cells. Treated cells maintained in lipoprotein-deficient medium showed no abnormality, indicating the exogenous origin of the accumulated sterol. Further, the drug induced a drastic dose-dependent impairment of LDL-stimulated cholesterol esterification, not related to an inhibition of acyl CoA:cholesterol acyltransferase, and a significant delay in down-regulation of de novo cholesterol synthesis. However, imipramine did not affect 25-hydroxycholesterol-mediated regulation of the two latter processes. These results resemble those observed in Niemann-Pick type C disease and suggest an impaired mobilization of LDL-derived cholesterol in imipramine-treated cells.

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