Plasma lipoproteins, plasma activities of lecithin:cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT), phospholipid transfer protein (PLTP), cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) and post-heparin lipases were measured before and after cholesterol challenge in two inbred strains of rabbits with either a high (hyper-responders) or a low (hyporesponders) response of plasma cholesterol to dietary cholesterol. The purpose of this study was to provide clues about the mechanisms underlying the effect of dietary cholesterol on lipoprotein levels and composition, and particularly those underlying the strain difference of this effect. Cholesterol feeding (0.15 g of cholesterol/100 g of diet) caused increased plasma total cholesterol concentrations and an increased ratio of cholesteryl esters:triacylglycerol in all lipoprotein particles in both strains; these effects were significantly greater in hyper- than hypo-responsive rabbits. Feeding on the high-cholesterol diet lowered plasma triacylglycerols in hyper-responders, but caused increased plasma triacylglycerol levels in hyporesponders. This was accompanied by significantly greater increases in the activities of hepatic triacylglycerol lipase and lipoprotein lipase in hyper- than in hypo-responders. Both strains showed a dietary-cholesterol-induced rise in plasma CETP as well as in PLTP activity. The increase in PLTP activity was greater in the hyper-responders, but that of CETP was less. There was no effect of dietary cholesterol on LCAT activity. It is hypothesized that the lipases are involved in the removal of cholesterol-rich lipoproteins.

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