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Abstract

These studies were undertaken to determine whether in young adult outbred CD-1 mice there were any gender-related differences in basal bile acid metabolism that might be important in determining how males and females in this species responded to a dietary cholesterol challenge. When fed a plain cereal-based rodent diet without added cholesterol, 3-month-old females, compared with age-matched males, manifested a significantly larger bile acid pool (89.1 vs. 54.1 μmol/100 g body weight), a higher rate of fecal bile acid excretion (13.6 vs. 8.5 μmol/d/100 g body weight), a more efficient level of intestinal cholesterol absorption (41.1% vs. 25.3%), and a lower rate of hepatic sterol synthesis (338 vs. 847 nmol/h/g). Similar results were found in C57BL/6 and 129Sv inbred mice. In matching groups of CD-1 mice fed a diet containing 1% cholesterol for 21 days, hepatic cholesterol levels increased much more in the females (from 2.4 to 9.1 mg/g) than in the males (from 2.1 to 5.2 mg/g). This occurred even though the level of stimulation of cholesterol 7α-hydroxylase activity in the females (79%) exceeded that in the males (55%), as did the magnitude of the increase in fecal bile acid excretion (females: 262% vs. males: 218%). However, in both sexes, bile acid pool size expanded only modestly and by a comparable degree (females: 19% vs. males: 26%) so that in the cholesterol-fed groups, the pool remained substantially larger in the females than in the males (102.3 vs. 67.6 μmol/100 g body weight). Together, these data demonstrate that while male and female CD-1 mice do not differ qualitatively in the way cholesterol feeding changes their bile acid metabolism, the inherently larger bile acid pool in the female likely facilitates the delivery of significantly more dietary cholesterol to the liver than is the case in males, thereby resulting in higher steady-state hepatic cholesterol levels.