Tissue-specific knockouts of ACAT2 reveal that intestinal depletion is sufficient to prevent diet-induced cholesterol accumulation in the liver and blood.
ABSTRACT: Acyl-CoA:cholesterol acyltransferase 2 (ACAT2) generates cholesterol esters (CE) for packaging into newly synthesized lipoproteins and thus is a major determinant of blood cholesterol levels. ACAT2 is expressed exclusively in the small intestine and liver, but the relative contributions of ACAT2 expression in these tissues to systemic cholesterol metabolism is unknown. We investigated whether CE derived from the intestine or liver would differentially affect hepatic and plasma cholesterol homeostasis. We generated liver-specific (ACAT2(L-/L-)) and intestine-specific (ACAT2(SI-/SI-)) ACAT2 knockout mice and studied dietary cholesterol-induced hepatic lipid accumulation and hypercholesterolemia. ACAT2(SI-/SI-) mice, in contrast to ACAT2(L-/L-) mice, had blunted cholesterol absorption. However, specific deletion of ACAT2 in the intestine generated essentially a phenocopy of the conditional knockout of ACAT2 in the liver, with reduced levels of plasma very low-density lipoprotein and hepatic CE, yet hepatic-free cholesterol does not build up after high cholesterol intake. ACAT2(L-/L-) and ACAT2(SI-/SI-) mice were equally protected from diet-induced hepatic CE accumulation and hypercholesterolemia. These results suggest that inhibition of intestinal or hepatic ACAT2 improves atherogenic hyperlipidemia and limits hepatic CE accumulation in mice and that depletion of intestinal ACAT2 is sufficient for most of the beneficial effects on cholesterol metabolism. Inhibitors of ACAT2 targeting either tissue likely would be beneficial for atheroprotection.
Project description:Cholesterol esters (CE), especially cholesterol oleate, generated by hepatic and intestinal sterol O-acyltransferase 2 (SOAT2) play a critical role in cholesterol homeostasis. However, it is unknown whether the contribution of intestine-derived CE from SOAT2 would have similar effects in promoting atherosclerosis progression as for liver-derived CE.To test whether, in low-density lipoprotein receptor null (LDLr(-/-)) mice, the conditional knockout of intestinal SOAT2 (SOAT2(SI-/SI-)) or hepatic SOAT2 (SOAT2(L-/L-)) would equally limit atherosclerosis development compared with the global deletion of SOAT2 (SOAT2(-/-)).SOAT2 conditional knockout mice were bred with LDLr(-/-) mice creating LDLr(-/-) mice with each of the specific SOAT2 gene deletions. All mice then were fed an atherogenic diet for 16 weeks. SOAT2(SI-/SI-)LDLr(-/-) and SOAT2(-/-)LDLr(-/-) mice had significantly lower levels of intestinal cholesterol absorption, more fecal sterol excretion, and lower biliary cholesterol levels. Analysis of plasma LDL showed that all mice with SOAT2 gene deletions had LDL CE with reduced percentages of cholesterol palmitate and cholesterol oleate. Each of the LDLr(-/-) mice with SOAT2 gene deletions had lower accumulations of total cholesterol and CE in the liver compared with control mice. Finally, aortic atherosclerosis development was significantly lower in all mice with global or tissue-restricted SOAT2 gene deletions. Nevertheless, SOAT2(-/-)LDLr(-/-) and SOAT2(L-/L-)LDLr(-/-) mice had less aortic CE accumulation and smaller aortic lesions than SOAT2(SI-/SI-)LDLr(-/-) mice.SOAT2-derived CE from both the intestine and liver significantly contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, although the CE from the hepatic enzyme appeared to promote more atherosclerosis development.
Project description:Acyl-CoA:cholesterol O-acyl transferase 2 (ACAT2) promotes cholesterol absorption by the intestine and the secretion of cholesteryl ester-enriched very low density lipoproteins by the liver. Paradoxically, mice lacking ACAT2 also exhibit mild hypertriglyceridemia. The present study addresses the unexpected role of ACAT2 in regulation of hepatic triglyceride (TG) metabolism. Mouse models of either complete genetic deficiency or pharmacological inhibition of ACAT2 were fed low fat diets containing various amounts of cholesterol to induce hepatic steatosis. Mice genetically lacking ACAT2 in both the intestine and the liver were dramatically protected against hepatic neutral lipid (TG and cholesteryl ester) accumulation, with the greatest differences occurring in situations where dietary cholesterol was elevated. Further studies demonstrated that liver-specific depletion of ACAT2 with antisense oligonucleotides prevents dietary cholesterol-associated hepatic steatosis both in an inbred mouse model of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (SJL/J) and in a humanized hyperlipidemic mouse model (LDLr(-/-), apoB(100/100)). All mouse models of diminished ACAT2 function showed lowered hepatic triglyceride concentrations and higher plasma triglycerides secondary to increased hepatic secretion of TG into nascent very low density lipoproteins. This work demonstrates that inhibition of hepatic ACAT2 can prevent dietary cholesterol-driven hepatic steatosis in mice. These data provide the first evidence to suggest that ACAT2-specific inhibitors may hold unexpected therapeutic potential to treat both atherosclerosis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Project description:OBJECTIVES: ACAT2 is the exclusive cholesterol-esterifying enzyme in hepatocytes and enterocytes. Hepatic ABCA1 transfers unesterified cholesterol (UC) to apoAI, thus generating HDL. By changing the hepatic UC pool available for ABCA1, ACAT2 may affect HDL metabolism. The aim of this study was to reveal whether hepatic ACAT2 influences HDL metabolism. DESIGN: WT and LXR?/? double knockout (DOKO) mice were fed a western-type diet for 8 weeks. Animals were i.p. injected with an antisense oligonucleotide targeted to hepatic ACAT2 (ASO6), or with an ASO control. Injections started 4 weeks after, or concomitantly with, the beginning of the diet. RESULTS: ASO6 reduced liver cholesteryl esters, while not inducing UC accumulation. ASO6 increased hepatic ABCA1 protein independently of the diet conditions. ASO6 affected HDL lipids (increased UC) only in DOKO, while it increased apoE-containing HDL in both genotypes. In WT mice ASO6 led to the appearance of large HDL enriched in apoAI and apoE. CONCLUSIONS: The use of ASO6 revealed a new pathway by which the liver may contribute to HDL metabolism in mice. ACAT2 seems to be a hepatic player affecting the cholesterol fluxes fated to VLDL or to HDL, the latter via up-regulation of ABCA1.
Project description:The hypothesis tested in this study was that cholesterol esterification by ACAT2 would increase cholesterol absorption efficiency by providing cholesteryl ester (CE) for incorporation into chylomicrons. The assumption was that absorption would be proportional to Acat2 gene dosage. Male ACAT2?/?, ACAT2?/?, and ACAT2?/? mice were fed a diet containing 20% of energy as palm oil with 0.2% (w/w) cholesterol. Cholesterol absorption efficiency was measured by fecal dual-isotope and thoracic lymph duct cannulation (TLDC) methods using [³H]sitosterol and [¹?C]cholesterol tracers. Excellent agreement among individual mice was found for cholesterol absorption measured by both techniques. Cholesterol absorption efficiency in ACAT2?/? mice was 16% compared with 46-47% in ACAT2?/? and ACAT2?/? mice. Chylomicrons from ACAT2?/? and ACAT2?/? mice carried ?80% of total sterol mass as CE, whereas ACAT2?/? chylomicrons carried >90% of sterol mass in the unesterified form. The total percentage of chylomicron mass as CE was reduced from 12% in the presence of ACAT2 to ?1% in ACAT2?/? mice. Altogether, the data demonstrate that ACAT2 increases cholesterol absorption efficiency by providing CE for chylomicron transport, but one copy of the Acat2 gene, providing ?50% of ACAT2 mRNA and enzyme activity, was as effective as two copies in promoting cholesterol absorption.
Project description:Cholesterol homeostasis in the enterocyte is regulated by the interplay of multiple genes that ultimately determines the net amount of cholesterol reaching the circulation from the small intestine. The effect of deleting these genes, particularly acyl CoA:cholesterol acyl transferase 2 (ACAT2), on cholesterol absorption and fecal sterol excretion is well documented. We also know that the intestinal mRNA level for adenosine triphosphate-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1) increases in Acat2(-/-) mice. However, none of these studies has specifically addressed how ACAT2 deficiency impacts the relative proportions of esterified and unesterified cholesterol (UC) in the enterocyte and whether the concurrent loss of ABCA1 might result in a marked buildup of UC. Therefore, the present studies measured the expression of numerous genes and related metabolic parameters in the intestine and liver of ACAT2-deficient mice fed diets containing either added cholesterol or ezetimibe, a selective sterol absorption inhibitor. Cholesterol feeding raised the concentration of UC in the small intestine, and this was accompanied by a significant reduction in the relative mRNA level for Niemann-Pick C1-like 1 (NPC1L1) and an increase in the mRNA level for both ABCA1 and ABCG5/8. All these changes were reversed by ezetimibe. When mice deficient in both ACAT2 and ABCA1 were fed a high-cholesterol diet, the increase in intestinal UC levels was no greater than it was in mice lacking only ACAT2. This resulted from a combination of compensatory mechanisms including diminished NPC1L1-mediated cholesterol uptake, increased cholesterol efflux via ABCG5/8, and possibly rapid cell turnover.
Project description:The liver plays a central role in cholesterol homeostasis. It exclusively receives and metabolizes oxysterols, which are important metabolites of cholesterol and are more cytotoxic than free cholesterol, from all extrahepatic tissues. Hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) impair certain liver functions and cause pathological alterations in many processes including cholesterol metabolism. However, the link between an altered cholesterol metabolism and HCC development is unclear. Human ACAT2 is abundantly expressed in intestine and fetal liver. Our previous studies have shown that ACAT2 is induced in certain HCC tissues. Here, by investigating tissue samples from HCC patients and HCC cell lines, we report that a specific cholesterol metabolic pathway, involving induction of ACAT2 and esterification of excess oxysterols for secretion to avoid cytotoxicity, is established in a subset of HCCs for tumor growth. Inhibiting ACAT2 leads to the intracellular accumulation of unesterified oxysterols and suppresses the growth of both HCC cell lines and their xenograft tumors. Further mechanistic studies reveal that HCC-linked promoter hypomethylation is essential for the induction of ACAT2 gene expression. We postulate that specifically blocking this HCC-established cholesterol metabolic pathway may have potential therapeutic applications for HCC patients.
Project description:Hormone sensitive lipase (HSL) regulates the hydrolysis of acylglycerols and cholesteryl esters (CE) in various cells and organs, including enterocytes of the small intestine. The physiological role of this enzyme in enterocytes, however, stayed elusive. In the present study we generated mice lacking HSL exclusively in the small intestine (HSLiKO) to investigate the impact of HSL deficiency on intestinal lipid metabolism and the consequences on whole body lipid homeostasis. Chow diet-fed HSLiKO mice showed unchanged plasma lipid concentrations. In addition, feeding with high fat/high cholesterol (HF/HC) diet led to unaltered triglyceride but increased plasma cholesterol concentrations and CE accumulation in the small intestine. The same effect was observed after an acute cholesterol load. Gavaging of radioactively labeled cholesterol resulted in increased abundance of radioactivity in plasma, liver and small intestine of HSLiKO mice 4h post-gavaging. However, cholesterol absorption determined by the fecal dual-isotope ratio method revealed no significant difference, suggesting that HSLiKO mice take up the same amount of cholesterol but in an accelerated manner. mRNA expression levels of genes involved in intestinal cholesterol transport and esterification were unchanged but we observed downregulation of HMG-CoA reductase and synthase and consequently less intestinal cholesterol biosynthesis. Taken together our study demonstrates that the lack of intestinal HSL leads to CE accumulation in the small intestine, accelerated cholesterol absorption and decreased cholesterol biosynthesis, indicating that HSL plays an important role in intestinal cholesterol homeostasis.
Project description:Lysosomal acid lipase (LAL) hydrolyzes cholesteryl ester (CE) and retinyl ester (RE) and triglyceride (TG). Mice globally lacking LAL accumulate CE most prominently in the liver. The severity of the CE accumulation phenotype progresses with age and is accompanied by hepatomegaly and hepatic cholesterol crystal deposition. In contrast, hepatic TG accumulation is much less pronounced in these mice, and hepatic RE levels are even decreased. To dissect the functional role of LAL for neutral lipid ester mobilization in the liver, we generated mice specifically lacking LAL in hepatocytes (hep-LAL-ko). On a standard chow diet, hep-LAL-ko mice exhibited increased hepatic CE accumulation but unaltered TG and RE levels. Feeding the hep-LAL-ko mice a vitamin A excess/high-fat diet (VitA/HFD) further increased hepatic cholesterol levels, but hepatic TG and RE levels in these mice were lower than in control mice. Performing in vitro activity assays with lysosome-enriched fractions from livers of mice globally lacking LAL, we detected residual acid hydrolytic activities against TG and RE. Interestingly, this non-LAL acid TG hydrolytic activity was elevated in lysosome-enriched fractions from livers of hep-LAL-ko mice upon VitA/HFD feeding. In conclusion, the neutral lipid ester phenotype in livers from hep-LAL-ko mice indicates that LAL is limiting for CE turnover, but not for TG and RE turnovers. Furthermore, in vitro hydrolase activity assays revealed the existence of non-LAL acid hydrolytic activities for TG and RE. The corresponding acid lipase(s) catalyzing these reactions remains to be identified.
Project description:Lysosomal acid lipase (LAL) hydrolyzes cholesteryl esters (CE) and triglycerides (TG) to generate fatty acids (FA) and cholesterol. LAL deficiency (LAL-D) in both humans and mice leads to hepatomegaly, hypercholesterolemia, and shortened life span. Despite its essential role in lysosomal neutral lipid catabolism, the cell type-specific contribution of LAL to disease progression is still elusive. To investigate the role of LAL in the liver in more detail and to exclude the contribution of LAL in macrophages, we generated hepatocyte-specific LAL-deficient mice (Liv-Lipa-/-) and fed them either chow or high fat/high cholesterol diets (HF/HCD). Comparable to systemic LAL-D, Liv-Lipa-/- mice were resistant to diet-induced obesity independent of food intake, movement, and energy expenditure. Reduced body weight gain was mainly due to reduced white adipose tissue depots. Furthermore, Liv-Lipa-/- mice exhibited improved glucose clearance during glucose and insulin tolerance tests compared to control mice. Analysis of hepatic lipid content revealed a massive reduction of TG, whereas CE concentrations were markedly increased, leading to CE crystal formation in the livers of Liv-Lipa-/- mice. Elevated plasma transaminase activities, increased pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines as well as hepatic macrophage infiltration indicated liver inflammation. Our data provide evidence that hepatocyte-specific LAL deficiency is sufficient to alter whole-body lipid and energy homeostasis in mice. We conclude that hepatic LAL plays a pivotal role by preventing liver damage and maintaining lipid and energy homeostasis, especially during high lipid availability.
Project description:cAMP responsive element binding protein 3-like 3 (CREB3L3), a transcription factor expressed in the liver and small intestine, governs fasting-response energy homeostasis. Tissue-specific CREB3L3 knockout mice have not been generated till date. To our knowledge, this is the first study using the one-step CRISPR/Cas9 system to generate CREB3L3 floxed mice and subsequently obtain liver- and small intestine-specific Creb3l3 knockout (LKO and IKO, respectively) mice. While LKO mice as well as global KO mice developed hypertriglyceridemia, LKO mice exhibited hypercholesterolemia in contrast to hypocholesterolemia in global KO mice. LKO mice demonstrated up-regulation of hepatic Srebf2 and its corresponding target genes. No phenotypic differences were observed between IKO and floxed mice. Severe liver injury was observed in LKO mice fed a methionine-choline deficient diet, a model for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. These results provide new evidence regarding the hepatic CREB3L3 role in plasma triglyceride metabolism and hepatic and intestinal CREB3L3 contributions to cholesterol metabolism.