1. The effect of the Ca2+-channel blocker diltiazem on hepatic apolipoprotein B (apo B) synthesis and secretion was studied in 12-18 h cultures of collagenase-dispersed rat hepatocytes. 2. The presence of diltiazem in the medium decreased apo B secretion by hepatocytes in a concentration-dependent manner. At 25 microM, diltiazem inhibited apo B secretion by approx. 36%, but there was no evidence of intracellular accumulation of apo B. 3. The inhibition of apo B secretion by hepatocytes was significantly correlated with cell-associated diltiazem (r = 0.72, P less than 0.01). 4. The rate of apo B secretion remained linear over 16 h even in the presence of 50 microM-diltiazem. 5. At diltiazem concentrations in the medium which were inhibitory for apo B secretion, [14C]acetate incorporation into cellular lipids and [35S]methionine incorporation into protein were enhanced. 6. Diltiazem inhibited the secretion of the apo B variants with a preferential inhibition of the higher-molecular-mass form of apo B (apo BH) over the lower-molecular-mass form (apo BL) at diltiazem concentrations in the medium greater than 25 microM. 7. Together, these results suggest that Ca2+ may play an important role in the synthesis and secretion of apo B-containing lipoproteins.

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