Plasma Cholesteryl Esters Provided by Lecithin:Cholesterol Acyltransferase and Acyl-Coenzyme A:Cholesterol Acyltransferase 2 Have Opposite Atherosclerotic Potential

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Abstract—Evidence suggests that ACAT2 is a proatherogenic enzyme that contributes cholesteryl esters (CEs) to apoB-containing lipoproteins, whereas LCAT is an antiatherogenic enzyme that facilitates reverse cholesterol transport by esterifying free cholesterol on HDL particles. We hypothesized that deletion of LCAT and ACAT2 would lead to absence of plasma CEs and reduced atherosclerosis. To test this hypothesis, ACAT2−/− LCAT−/− LDLr−/−, ACAT2−/− LDLr−/−, and LCAT−/− LDLr−/− mice were fed a 0.15% cholesterol diet for 20 weeks. In comparison to LDLr−/− mice, the total plasma cholesterol (TPC) of ACAT2−/− LCAT−/− LDLr−/− mice was 67% lower because of the complete absence of plasma CEs, leading to 94% less CE accumulation in the aorta. In the LCAT−/− LDLr−/− mice, TPC and atherosclerosis were significantly higher because of increased accumulations of ACAT2-derived CE. In ACAT2−/− LDLr−/− mice, again compared with LDLr−/− mice, TPC was 19% lower, whereas atherosclerosis was 88% lower. Therefore, the absence of ACAT2 led to a significant reduction in TPC although benefits in reduction of atherosclerosis were much more pronounced. Overall, the data suggest that ACAT2-derived CE is the predominant atherogenic lipid in blood, and that an important goal for prevention of atherosclerosis is to limit ACAT2-derived CE accumulation in lipoproteins.

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