Overexpression of cholesterol transporter StAR increases In Vivo rates of bile acid synthesis in the rat and mouse



Bile acid synthesis (BAS) occurs mainly via two pathways: the “neutral” pathway, which is initiated by highly regulated microsomal CYP7A1, and an “acidic” pathway, which is initiated by mitochondrial CYP27A1. Previously, we have shown that overexpression of the steroidognic acute regulatory protein (StAR), a mitochondrial cholesterol transport protein, increases bile acid biosynthesis more than 5-fold via the acidic pathway in primary rat hepatocytes. This observation suggests that mitochondrial cholesterol transport is the ratelimiting step of BAS via this pathway. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of increased StAR on rates of BAS in vivo. Overexpression of StAR and CYP7A1 were mediated via infection with recombinant adenoviruses. BAS rates were determined in chronic biliary-diverted rats and mice, and in mice with an intact enterohepatic circulation. The protein/messenger RNA levels of StAR and CYP7A1 increased dramatically following overexpression. Overexpression of StAR or CYP7A1 led to a similar 2-fold (P < .01) increase in BAS over up-regulated (approximately 2-fold) 3-day chronic biliary-diverted control rats. Additionally, overexpression of StAR led to more than 3- and 6-fold increases over controls in the rates of BAS in biliary-diverted and intact mice, respectively (P < .01). In conclusion, in both rats and mice in vivo, overexpression of StAR led to a marked increase in the rates of BAS initiated by delivery of cholesterol to mitochondria containing CYP27A1. (Hepatology 2004;40:910–917).