The rates of cholesterol biosynthesis in isolated rat hepatocytes were determined by using a method based on measurement of the rate of formation of desmosterol (cholesta-5,24-dien-3β-ol), which accumulates during inhibition of cholesterogenesis by the drug triparanol. Incubation of cells from normal or 24h-starved animals in a medium containing albumin, glucose, amino acids and acetate as the only organic constituents led to an accelerating rate of sterol formation during the earlier stages of a 6h incubation period. The contribution of exogenously added acetate (initial concentration 3.34mm) to sterol synthesis in both types of cells reached an early maximum and then continually declined. Exogenously added pyruvate and lactate were more efficient sources of sterol carbon than was acetate. Exogenous glucose even at relatively high concentrations (11.1mm) was incapable of providing more than 6% of the total sterol carbon. Although the proportion of total sterol carbon supplied from exogenous acetate increased with increasing concentrations of the extracellular substrate, the rates of total sterol synthesis in both types of cell remained unchanged. Similar observations were made when lactate or pyruvate was the cholesterogenic precursor in normal cells. These studies suggest that, although exogenous substrates were capable of expanding an intracellular pool of cholesterol precursor, the normal supply of intermediary metabolites was not rate-limiting for cholesterogenesis.

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