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J Lipid Res. 1996 Jun;37(6):1325-33.

Changes in serum sterols of rats treated with 7-dehydrocholesterol-delta 7-reductase inhibitors: comparison to levels in humans with Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Biochimie, CHU Saint Antoine, Paris.


The impaired conversion of 7-dehydrocholesterol to cholesterol, as a result of a permanent inhibition of the activity of 7-dehydrocholesterol-delta 7-reductase, has been reported in the Smith-Lemli-Opitz (SLO) syndrome (1, 2). For the purpose of experimental teratology, an animal disease model consisting of the offspring of pregnant rats treated with AY 9944 or BM 15766, inhibitors of 7-dehydrocholesterol-delta 7-reductase, was established. The present study compares the profiles of sterols in rat serum, obtained after transient treatment with inhibitors, with profiles of sterols obtained from patients with the permanent enzyme defect. AY 9944 (single dose of 50, 75, or 100 mg/kg) or BM 15766 (60, 75, or 90 mg/kg per day for 11 days) induces hypocholesterolemia and accumulation of 7-dehydrocholesterol and aberrant sterols in rat serum. The aberrant sterols in the treated rats are similar to those detected in human SLO patients by gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (1, 3, 4) and were identified as 7- and 8-dehydrocholesterol, two trienols (I and II), and 19-nor-5,7,9(10)-cholestatrien-3 beta-ol. The time- and dose-dependences of the biochemical alterations are compared to the teratogenic abnormalities induced by inhibitors. The dietary cholesterol supplementation that suppresses embryo malformations induced by AY 9944 prevents severe hypocholesterolemia and decreases the aberrant sterol levels. As a function of time after intoxication, the 8-dehydrocholesterol to 7-dehydrocholesterol ratio increases, suggested that 8-dehydrocholesterol is derived from the gradual conversion of the accumulated 7-dehydrocholesterol. The ratio of 8-dehydrocholesterol to 7-dehydrocholesterol is higher in human SLO than in the animal disease model. This may be explained by a permanent block in 7-dehydrocholesterol-delta 7-reductase in SLO compared to a transient inhibition of this enzyme in the animal model.

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