Microbiota prevents cholesterol loss from the body by regulating host gene expression in mice.
ABSTRACT: We have previously observed that knockout of Niemann-Pick C1-Like 1 (NPC1L1), a cholesterol transporter essential for intestinal cholesterol absorption, reduces the output of dry stool in mice. As the food intake remains unaltered in NPC1L1-knockout (L1-KO) mice, we hypothesized that NPC1L1 deficiency may alter the gut microbiome to reduce stool output. Consistently, here we demonstrate that the phyla of fecal microbiota differ substantially between L1-KO mice and their wild-type controls. Germ-free (GF) mice have reduced stool output. Inhibition of NPC1L1 by its inhibitor ezetimibe reduces stool output in specific pathogen-free (SPF), but not GF mice. In addition, we show that GF versus SPF mice have reduced intestinal absorption and increased fecal excretion of cholesterol, particularly after treatment with ezetimibe. This negative balance of cholesterol in GF mice is associated with reduced plasma and hepatic cholesterol, and likely caused by reduced expression of NPC1L1 and increased expression of ABCG5 and ABCG8 in small intestine. Expression levels of other genes in intestine and liver largely reflect a state of cholesterol depletion and a decrease in intestinal sensing of bile acids. Altogether, our findings reveal a broad role of microbiota in regulating whole-body cholesterol homeostasis and its response to a cholesterol-lowering drug, ezetimibe.
Project description:Controversies have arisen from recent mouse studies about the essential role of biliary sterol secretion in reverse cholesterol transport (RCT). The objective of this study was to examine the role of biliary cholesterol secretion in modulating macrophage RCT in Niemann-Pick C1-Like 1 (NPC1L1) liver only (L1(LivOnly)) mice, an animal model that is defective in both biliary sterol secretion and intestinal sterol absorption, and determine whether NPC1L1 inhibitor ezetimibe facilitates macrophage RCT by inhibiting hepatic NPC1L1.L1(LivOnly) mice were generated by crossing NPC1L1 knockout (L1-KO) mice with transgenic mice overexpressing human NPC1L1 specifically in liver. Macrophage-to-feces RCT was assayed in L1-KO and L1(LivOnly) mice injected intraperitoneally with [(3)H]-cholesterol-labeled peritoneal macrophages isolated from C57BL/6 mice. Inhibition of biliary sterol secretion by hepatic overexpression of NPC1L1 substantially reduced transport of [(3)H]-cholesterol from primary peritoneal macrophages to the neutral sterol fraction in bile and feces in L1(LivOnly) mice without affecting tracer excretion in the bile acid fraction. Ezetimibe treatment for 2 weeks completely restored both biliary and fecal excretion of [(3)H]-tracer in the neutral sterol fraction in L1(LivOnly) mice. High-density lipoprotein kinetic studies showed that L1(LivOnly) mice compared with L1-KO mice had a significantly reduced fractional catabolic rate without altered hepatic and intestinal uptake of high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol ether.In mice lacking intestinal cholesterol absorption, macrophage-to-feces RCT depends on efficient biliary sterol secretion, and ezetimibe promotes macrophage RCT by inhibiting hepatic NPC1L1 function.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:The correlation between intestinal cholesterol absorption values and plasma low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) levels remains controversial. Niemann-Pick-C1-Like 1 (NPC1L1) is essential for intestinal cholesterol absorption, and is the target of ezetimibe, a cholesterol absorption inhibitor. However, studies with NPC1L1 knockout mice or ezetimibe cannot definitively clarify this correlation because NPC1L1 expression is not restricted to intestine in humans and mice. In this study we sought to genetically address this issue. METHODS AND RESULTS:We developed a mouse model that lacks endogenous (NPC1L1) and LDL receptor (LDLR) (DKO), but transgenically expresses human NPC1L1 in gastrointestinal tract only (DKO/L1(IntOnly) mice). Our novel model eliminated potential effects of non-intestinal NPC1L1 on cholesterol homeostasis. We found that human NPC1L1 was localized at the intestinal brush border membrane of DKO/L1(IntOnly) mice. Cholesterol feeding induced formation of NPC1L1-positive vesicles beneath this membrane in an ezetimibe-sensitive manner. Compared to DKO mice, DKO/L1(IntOnly) mice showed significant increases in cholesterol absorption and blood/hepatic/biliary cholesterol. Increased blood cholesterol was restricted to very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) and LDL fractions, which was associated with increased secretion and plasma levels of apolipoproteins B100 and B48. Additionally, DKO/L1(IntOnly) mice displayed decreased fecal cholesterol excretion and hepatic/intestinal expression of cholesterologenic genes. Ezetimibe treatment virtually reversed all of the transgene-related phenotypes in DKO/L1(IntOnly) mice. CONCLUSION:Our findings from DKO/L1(IntOnly) mice clearly demonstrate that NPC1L1-mediated cholesterol absorption is a major determinant of blood levels of apolipoprotein B-containing atherogenic lipoproteins, at least in mice.
Project description:Niemann-Pick C1-like 1 (NPC1L1) is required for cholesterol absorption. Intestinal NPC1L1 appears to be a target of ezetimibe, a cholesterol absorption inhibitor that effectively lowers plasma LDL-cholesterol in humans. However, human liver also expresses NPC1L1. Hepatic function of NPC1L1 was previously unknown, but we recently discovered that NPC1L1 localizes to the canalicular membrane of primate hepatocytes and that NPC1L1 facilitates cholesterol uptake in hepatoma cells. Based upon these findings, we hypothesized that hepatic NPC1L1 allows the retention of biliary cholesterol by hepatocytes and that ezetimibe disrupts hepatic function of NPC1L1. To test this hypothesis, transgenic mice expressing human NPC1L1 in hepatocytes (L1-Tg mice) were created. Hepatic overexpression of NPC1L1 resulted in a 10- to 20-fold decrease in biliary cholesterol concentration, but not phospholipid and bile acid concentrations. This decrease was associated with a 30%-60% increase in plasma cholesterol, mainly because of the accumulation of apoE-rich HDL. Biliary and plasma cholesterol concentrations in these animals were virtually returned to normal with ezetimibe treatment. These findings suggest that in humans, ezetimibe may reduce plasma cholesterol by inhibiting NPC1L1 function in both intestine and liver, and hepatic NPC1L1 may have evolved to protect the body from excessive biliary loss of cholesterol.
Project description:Niemann-Pick C1-like 1 protein (NPC1L1), a transporter crucial in intestinal cholesterol absorption, is expressed in human liver but not in murine liver. To elucidate the role of hepatic NPC1L1 on lipid metabolism, we overexpressed NPC1L1 in murine liver utilizing adenovirus-mediated gene transfer. C57BL/6 mice, fed on normal chow with or without ezetimibe, were injected with NPC1L1 adenovirus (L1-mice) or control virus (Null-mice), and lipid analyses were performed five days after the injection. The plasma cholesterol levels increased in L1-mice, and FPLC analyses revealed increased cholesterol contents in large HDL lipoprotein fractions. These fractions, which showed α-mobility on agarose electrophoresis, were rich in apoE and free cholesterol. These lipoprotein changes were partially inhibited by ezetimibe treatment and were not observed in apoE-deficient mice. In addition, plasma and VLDL triglyceride (TG) levels decreased in L1-mice. The expression of microsomal triglyceride transfer protein (MTP) was markedly decreased in L1-mice, accompanied by the reduced protein levels of forkhead box protein O1 (FoxO1). These changes were not observed in mice with increased hepatic de novo cholesterol synthesis. These data demonstrate that cholesterol absorbed through NPC1L1 plays a distinct role in cellular and plasma lipid metabolism, such as the appearance of apoE-rich lipoproteins and the diminished VLDL-TG secretion.
Project description:Ezetimibe inhibits Niemann-Pick C1-like 1 (NPC1L1), an apical membrane cholesterol transporter of enterocytes, thereby reduces intestinal cholesterol absorption. This treatment also increases extrahepatic reverse cholesterol transport via an undefined mechanism. To explore this, we employed a trans-intestinal cholesterol efflux (TICE) assay, which directly detects circulation-to-intestinal lumen 3H-cholesterol transit in a cannulated jejunal segment, and found an increase of TICE by 45%. To examine whether such increase in efflux occurs at the intestinal brush border membrane(BBM)-level, we performed luminal perfusion assays, similar to TICE but the jejunal wall was labelled with orally-given 3H-cholesterol, and determined elevated BBM-to-lumen cholesterol efflux by 3.5-fold with ezetimibe. Such increased efflux probably promotes circulation-to-lumen cholesterol transit eventually; thus increases TICE. Next, we wondered how inhibition of NPC1L1, an influx transporter, resulted in increased efflux. When we traced orally-given 3H-cholesterol in mice, we found that lumen-to-BBM 3H-cholesterol transit was rapid and less sensitive to ezetimibe treatment. Comparison of the efflux and fractional cholesterol absorption revealed an inverse correlation, indicating the efflux as an opposite-regulatory factor for cholesterol absorption efficiency and counteracting to the naturally-occurring rapid cholesterol influx to the BBM. These suggest that the ezetimibe-stimulated increased efflux is crucial in reducing cholesterol absorption. Ezetimibe-induced increase in cholesterol efflux was approximately 2.5-fold greater in mice having endogenous ATP-binding cassette G5/G8 heterodimer, the major sterol efflux transporter of enterocytes, than the knockout counterparts, suggesting that the heterodimer confers additional rapid BBM-to-lumen cholesterol efflux in response to NPC1L1 inhibition. The observed framework for intestinal cholesterol fluxes may provide ways to modulate the flux to dispose of endogenous cholesterol efficiently for therapeutic purposes.
Project description:The intestinal absorption of cholesterol is mediated by a multipass membrane protein, Niemann-Pick C1-Like 1 (NPC1L1), the molecular target of a cholesterol lowering therapy ezetimibe. While ezetimibe gained Food and Drug Administration approval in 2002, its mechanism of action has remained unclear. Here, we present two cryo-electron microscopy structures of NPC1L1, one in its apo form and the other complexed with ezetimibe. The apo form represents an open state in which the N-terminal domain (NTD) interacts loosely with the rest of NPC1L1, leaving the NTD central cavity accessible for cholesterol loading. The ezetimibe-bound form signifies a closed state in which the NTD rotates ~60°, creating a continuous tunnel enabling cholesterol movement into the plasma membrane. Ezetimibe blocks cholesterol transport by occluding the tunnel instead of competing with cholesterol binding. These findings provide insight into the molecular mechanisms of NPC1L1-mediated cholesterol transport and ezetimibe inhibition, paving the way for more effective therapeutic development.
Project description:Niemann-Pick C1-like 1 (NPC1L1) facilitates the uptake of sterols into the enterocyte and is the target of the novel cholesterol absorption inhibitor, ezetimibe. These studies used the Golden Syrian hamster as a model to delineate the changes in the relative mRNA expression of NPC1L1 and other proteins that regulate sterol homeostasis in the enterocyte during and following cessation of ezetimibe treatment and also to address the clinically important question of whether the marked inhibition of cholesterol absorption alters biliary lipid composition. In hamsters fed a low-cholesterol, low-fat basal diet, the abundance of mRNA for NPC1L1 in the small intestine far exceeded that in other regions of the gastrointestinal tract, liver, and gallbladder. In the first study, female hamsters were fed the basal diet containing ezetimibe at doses up to 2.0 mg.day(-1).kg body wt(-1). At this dose, cholesterol absorption fell by 82%, fecal neutral sterol excretion increased by 5.3-fold, and hepatic and intestinal cholesterol synthesis increased more than twofold, but there were no significant changes in either fecal bile acid excretion or biliary lipid composition. The ezetimibe-induced changes in intestinal cholesterol handling were reversed when treatment was withdrawn. In a second study, male hamsters were given a diet enriched in cholesterol and safflower oil without or with ezetimibe. The lipid-rich diet raised the absolute and relative cholesterol levels in bile more than fourfold. This increase was largely prevented by ezetimibe. These data are consistent with the recent finding that ezetimibe treatment significantly reduced biliary cholesterol saturation in patients with gallstones.
Project description:Ezetimibe is a potent inhibitor of cholesterol absorption that has been approved for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia, but its molecular target has been elusive. Using a genetic approach, we recently identified Niemann-Pick C1-Like 1 (NPC1L1) as a critical mediator of cholesterol absorption and an essential component of the ezetimibe-sensitive pathway. To determine whether NPC1L1 is the direct molecular target of ezetimibe, we have developed a binding assay and shown that labeled ezetimibe glucuronide binds specifically to a single site in brush border membranes and to human embryonic kidney 293 cells expressing NPC1L1. Moreover, the binding affinities of ezetimibe and several key analogs to recombinant NPC1L1 are virtually identical to those observed for native enterocyte membranes. KD values of ezetimibe glucuronide for mouse, rat, rhesus monkey, and human NPC1L1 are 12,000, 540, 40, and 220 nM, respectively. Last, ezetimibe no longer binds to membranes from NPC1L1 knockout mice. These results unequivocally establish NPC1L1 as the direct target of ezetimibe and should facilitate efforts to identify the molecular mechanism of cholesterol transport.
Project description:<h4>Objective</h4>The transcription factor cyclic AMP-responsive element-binding protein H (CREBH, encoded by <i>Creb3l3</i>) is highly expressed in the liver and small intestine. Hepatic CREBH contributes to glucose and triglyceride metabolism by regulating fibroblast growth factor 21 (<i>Fgf21</i>) expression. However, the intestinal CREBH function remains unknown.<h4>Methods</h4>To investigate the influence of intestinal CREBH on cholesterol metabolism, we compared plasma, bile, fecal, and tissue cholesterol levels between wild-type (WT) mice and mice overexpressing active human CREBH mainly in the small intestine (CREBH Tg mice) under different dietary conditions.<h4>Results</h4>Plasma cholesterol, hepatic lipid, and cholesterol crystal formation in the gallbladder were lower in CREBH Tg mice fed a lithogenic diet (LD) than in LD-fed WTs, while fecal cholesterol output was higher in the former. These results suggest that intestinal CREBH overexpression suppresses cholesterol absorption, leading to reduced plasma cholesterol, limited hepatic supply, and greater excretion. The expression of Niemann-Pick C1-like 1 (<i>Npc1l1</i>), a rate-limiting transporter mediating intestinal cholesterol absorption, was reduced in the small intestine of CREBH Tg mice. Adenosine triphosphate-binding cassette transporter A1 (<i>Abca1</i>), <i>Abcg5/8</i>, and scavenger receptor class B, member 1 (<i>Srb1</i>) expression levels were also reduced in CREBH Tg mice. Promoter assays revealed that CREBH directly regulates <i>Npc1l1</i> expression. Conversely, CREBH null mice exhibited higher intestinal <i>Npc1l1</i> expression, elevated plasma and hepatic cholesterol, and lower fecal output.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Intestinal CREBH regulates dietary cholesterol flow from the small intestine by controlling the expression of multiple intestinal transporters. We propose that intestinal CREBH could be a therapeutic target for hypercholesterolemia.
Project description:Niemann-Pick C1-Like 1 (NPC1L1) mediates intestinal absorption of dietary and biliary cholesterol. Ezetimibe, by inhibiting NPC1L1 function, is widely used to treat hypercholesterolemia in humans. Interestingly, ezetimibe treatment appears to attenuate hepatic steatosis in rodents and humans without a defined mechanism. Over-consumption of a high-fat diet (HFD) represents a major cause of metabolic disorders including fatty liver. To determine whether and how NPC1L1 deficiency prevents HFD-induced hepatic steatosis, in this study, we fed NPC1L1 knockout (L1-KO) mice and their wild-type (WT) controls an HFD, and found that 24 weeks of HFD feeding causes no fatty liver in L1-KO mice. Hepatic fatty acid synthesis and levels of mRNAs for lipogenic genes are substantially reduced but hepatic lipoprotein-triglyceride production, fatty acid oxidation, and triglyceride hydrolysis remain unaltered in L1-KO versus WT mice. Strikingly, L1-KO mice are completely protected against HFD-induced hyperinsulinemia under both fed and fasted states and during glucose challenge. Despite similar glucose tolerance, L1-KO relative WT mice are more insulin sensitive and in the overnight-fasted state display significantly lower plasma glucose concentrations. In conclusion, NPC1L1 deficiency in mice prevents HFD-induced fatty liver by reducing hepatic lipogenesis, at least in part, through attenuating HFD-induced insulin resistance, a state known to drive hepatic lipogenesis through elevated circulating insulin levels.