Comparison of different cellular models measuring in vitro the whole human serum cholesterol efflux capacity

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Fu5AH rat hepatoma cells and cAMP (cyclic AMP)-pretreated J774 mouse macrophages are commonly used as models for SR-BI (scavenger receptor class B type I) and ABCA1 (ATP binding cassette transporter 1)-mediated free cholesterol efflux to whole serum, respectively. However, the responsiveness of Fu5AH, control or cAMP pretreated J774 cells to the various lipids and HDL (high-density lipoprotein)-parameters from both normo- and dyslipidaemic subjects has never been compared within the same study.

Materials and methods

Fifty-eight men were classified into four groups: type IIa hypercholesterolaemic (n = 12), type IIb dyslipidaemic (n = 13), type IV hypertriglyceridaemic (n = 18) and normolipidaemic (n = 15) were recruited. A complete lipid profile including preβ-HDL was performed. Cholesterol efflux from Fu5AH cells as well as from control or cAMP pretreated J774 cells were measured; the difference between these two latter values being taken as the ABCA1-mediated efflux.


The Fu5AH and the control J774 cells delivered cholesterol to mature HDLs, especially to phospholipid (PL)-rich HDL. Using cAMP pretreated cells, the ABCA1-dependent efflux was highly sensitive to preβ-HDL, which appeared to be a factor in determining the efflux. Consistent with the dependence of the SR-BI-mediated efflux on HDL-PL levels, which are not different between groups, all sera displayed similar efflux capacities from the Fu5AH cells. Conversely, in accordance with their high preβ-HDL levels, the ABCA1-dependent efflux highlighted the efficiency of type IV sera.


Two complementary cellular models providing SR-BI and ABCA1-dependent efflux should be used to measure the capacity of a biological fluid which contains a wide variety of components to promote cholesterol efflux.

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