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Mol Cell Biochem. 1996 Feb 23;155(2):153-62.

Regulation of the apolipoprotein E by dietary lipids occurs by transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, MO 63110, USA.


The aim of the present investigation was to study the regulation of apolipoprotein E by two dietary nutrients, saturated fat and cholesterol, known to raise plasma cholesterol levels. ApoE is a protein component of several classes of lipoproteins including VLDL and HDL, and dietary lipids may regulate VLDL and apoE-containing HDL particles through their effects on apoE gene. Male rats and mice were fed the following 4 diets: control diet (C); high cholesterol diet with 0.5% cholesterol (HC); high fat diet with 20% hydrogenated coconut oil (HF); and high fat plus high cholesterol diet with 0.5% cholesterol and 20% fat (HF/ C). Plasma cholesterol levels remained unchanged on HC diet, but in mice VLDL-cholesterol increased by 31%. HF diet increased VLDL and LDL by 15-17% in rats, and 21% in mice. A combination of fat and cholesterol diet showed pronounced effects on plasma lipoprotein concentrations, raising apoB-containing particles by 21% and 44% in mice and rats, respectively. Plasma apoE levels increased significantly on all diets. The mechanism of regulation of increased plasma apoB and apoE levels was examined. Quantification of hepatic apoB mRNA showed a lack of correlation between plasma apoB and hepatic apoB mRNA levels, suggesting that posttranscriptional regulation increased plasma apoB-containing lipoproteins in animals fed saturated fat diets. Hepatic apoE mRNA levels increased significantly in animals fed cholesterol-rich diets. However, despite increased plasma apoE levels on diet containing only saturated fat, hepatic apoE mRNA did not change. Synthesis of apoE on the liver polysomes increased selectively on cholesterol-rich diets. These results suggest that cholesterol-rich diets altered apoE, in part, by transcriptional mechanism, and saturated fat-rich diets increased plasma apoE levels by posttranscriptional mechanism, possibly decreased receptor-mediated uptake of apoE-containing particles. The regulation of LDL receptor was also studied since plasma apoB and E levels may be altered by LDL receptor-mediated uptake by the hepatocytes. As expected, high cholesterol diet decreased LDL receptor mRNA by 30-40%. However, the LDL receptor protein on liver membranes did not change on any of the test diets in both animal species. Hepatic cholesterol content increased several fold selectively on high cholesterol diets. These findings suggest that: 1) both transcriptional and posttranscriptional mechanisms are important in regulating plasma apoB and E containing lipoproteins; 2) dietary cholesterol regulates apoE gene by a transcriptional mechanism and dietary saturated fat by posttranscriptional mechanism; and 3) changes in the hepatic apoE and LDL receptor mRNA are associated with the changes in intracellular cholesterol concentrations.

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