CEM and MOLT4 are human T-cell lines isolated from patients with acute cell leukaemia. In culture they show important differences in cholesterol metabolism, CEM being less efficient at synthesizing cholesterol and having a lower activity of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA (HMGCoA) reductase. To investigate further the relationship between regulation of intracellular cholesterol metabolism at various steps and rate of cell growth, cholesterol synthesis, esterification and efflux were evaluated in CEM and MOLT4 cells at different times during exponential and stationary growth in vitro. It was shown that, although CEM cells have a lower rate of cholesterol synthesis, they grow at a faster rate than MOLT4 cells. However, CEM cells exhibit an increased capacity to esterify cholesterol associated with a decreased efflux of newly synthesized cholesterol into the medium. These results provide evidence for an association between the capability to synthesize and retain cell cholesterol esters and the growth rate potential.

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