Effects of dietary cholesterol on bile formation and hepatic processing of chylomicron remnant cholesterol in the rat



We have studied the coupling between hepatic uptake of chylomicron remnant cholesteryl ester and biliary excretion of cholesterol and bile acids in rats, after feeding them a cholesterol-free (control) or a high-cholesterol diet (1% wt/wt) for 2 wk. We equipped rats with permanent catheters in the bile duct, duodenum and heart to allow experiments in unanesthetized, unrestrained animals. Cholesterol feeding induced a 20% increase in plasma cholesterol concentration, a threefold increase in hepatic bile acid synthesis and a 27% increase in bile acid pool size, whereas biliary excretion of cholesterol was decreased by 50%. The enlarged bile acid pool contained relatively less cholic acid and more chenodeoxycholic acid and muricholic acids. [3H]cholesteryl ester–labeled chylomicron remnants (150 m̈g protein per rat) were injected intracardially, and blood and bile were collected for a period of 22 hr. Plasma disappearance of remnants was significantly delayed by cholesterol feeding, probably caused by competition with dietinduced β-very low density lipoproteins for hepatic uptake. In control rats biliary excretion of chylomicron remnant-derived radioactivity (50% in free cholesterol and 50% in bile acids) showed an initial peak 1 hr after injection (2.4% dose per hour). A second peak (90% in bile acids), amounting to 1.5% of the dose per hour, appeared 11 hr after injection. Total 22-hr excretion of 3H was 22% of the dose. In cholesterol-fed rats chylomicron remnant-derived radioactivity appeared more rapidly in bile, with a peak 1 hr after injection, amounting to 3.5% of the dose per hour. In this case radioactivity was mainly present as bile acid. Total excretion in 22 hr was 27% of the dose. We conclude that chylomicron remnant uptake by the liver is efficiently coupled to bile acid synthesis and biliary excretion, thus providing an efficient pathway for removal of intestine-derived cholesterol. After cholesterol feeding, chylomicron remnant cholesteryl ester is more efficiently converted to bile acids, a mechanism which may contribute to the resistance of rats to diet-induced elevation of plasma cholesterol. In contrast, biliary excretion in the form of free cholesterol, the second main excretory pathway, is significantly decreased by a high-cholesterol diet. (HEPATOLOGY 1993;17:445–454.)