1. Hepatic uptake of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in parenchymal cells and non-parenchymal cells was studied in control-fed and cholesterol-fed rabbits after intravenous injection of radioiodinated native LDL (125I-TC-LDL) and methylated LDL (131I-TC-MetLDL). 2. LDL was taken up by rabbit liver parenchymal cells, as well as by endothelial and Kupffer cells. Parenchymal cells, however, were responsible for 92% of the hepatic LDL uptake. 3. Of LDL in the hepatocytes, 89% was taken up via the B,E receptor, whereas 16% and 32% of the uptake of LDL in liver endothelial cells and Kupffer cells, respectively, was B,E receptor-dependent. 4. Cholesterol feeding markedly reduced B,E receptor-mediated uptake of LDL in parenchymal liver cells and in Kupffer cells, to 19% and 29% of controls, respectively. Total uptake of LDL in liver endothelial cells was increased about 2-fold. This increased uptake is probably mediated via the scavenger receptor. The B,E receptor-independent association of LDL with parenchymal cells was not affected by the cholesterol feeding. 5. It is concluded that the B,E receptor is located in parenchymal as well as in the non-parenchymal rabbit liver cells, and that this receptor is down-regulated by cholesterol feeding. Parenchymal cells are the main site of hepatic uptake of LDL, both under normal conditions and when the number of B,E receptors is down-regulated by cholesterol feeding. In addition, LDL is taken up by B,E receptor-independent mechanism(s) in rabbit liver parenchymal, endothelial and Kupffer cells. The non-parenchymal liver cells may play a quantitatively important role when the concentration of circulating LDL is maintained at a high level in plasma, being responsible for 26% of hepatic uptake of LDL in cholesterol-fed rabbits as compared with 8% in control-fed rabbits. The proportion of hepatic LDL uptake in endothelial cells was greater than 5-fold higher in the diet-induced hypercholesterolaemic rabbits than in controls.

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