HDL from CETP-deficient subjects shows enhanced ability to promote cholesterol efflux from macrophages in an apoE- and ABCG1-dependent pathway

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Genetic deficiency or inhibition of cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) leads to a marked increase in plasma levels of large HDL-2 particles. However, there is concern that such particles may be dysfunctional in terms of their ability to promote cholesterol efflux from macrophages. Recently, the ATP-binding cassette transporter ABCG1, a macrophage liver X receptor (LXR) target, has been shown to stimulate cholesterol efflux to HDL. We have assessed the ability of HDL from subjects with homozygous deficiency of CETP (CETP-D) to promote cholesterol efflux from macrophages and have evaluated the role of ABCG1 and other factors in this process. CETP-D HDL-2 caused a 2- to 3-fold stimulation of net cholesterol efflux compared with control HDL-2 in LXR-activated macrophages, due primarily to an increase in lecithin:cholesterol acyltransferase–mediated (LCAT-mediated) cholesteryl ester formation in media. Genetic knockdown or overexpression of ABCG1 showed that increased cholesterol efflux to CETP-D HDL was ABCG1 dependent. LCAT and apoE contents of CETP-D HDL-2 were markedly increased compared with control HDL-2, and increased cholesterol esterification activity resided within the apoE-HDL fraction. Thus, CETP-D HDL has enhanced ability to promote cholesterol efflux from foam cells in an ABCG1-dependent pathway due to an increased content of LCAT and apoE.

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