• retinoids;
  • gene expression;
  • lipoprotein;
  • dietary supplementation;
  • reverse cholesterol transport


Objective: Scavenger receptor class BI (SR-BI), authentic high-density lipoprotein (HDL) receptors expressed in liver, are known to play an important role in HDL-cholesterol (C) metabolism and reverse cholesterol transport. Interestingly, obese rats of WNIN/Ob strain have abnormally elevated levels of serum HDL-C compared with their lean counterparts. Based on the well-established role of SR-B1 in HDL-C metabolism, it was hypothesized that these obese rats may have an underexpression of hepatic SR-B1 receptors. In view of the significant role of vitamin A in energy expenditure and obesity, we also tested whether vitamin A supplementation can correct abnormal HDL-C metabolism.

Research Methods and Procedures: To test this hypothesis, 7-month-old male lean and obese rats of WNIN/Ob strain were divided into two groups; each group was subdivided into two subgroups consisting of six lean and six obese rats and received diets containing either 2.6 or 129 mg vitamin A/kg diet for 2 months.

Results: At the end, obese rats receiving normal levels of vitamin A diet showed high serum HDL-C and lower hepatic SR-BI expression levels compared with lean counterparts. Furthermore, chronic dietary vitamin A supplementation resulted in overexpression of hepatic SR-BI receptors (protein and gene) with concomitant reduction in serum HDL-C levels in obese rats.

Discussion: Thus, our observations highlight the role of vitamin A in reverse cholesterol transport through up-regulation of hepatic SR-BI receptors and, thereby, HDL-C homeostasis in obese rats of WNIN/Ob strain.