Hepatic VLDL (very-low-density lipoprotein) assembly is a complex process that is largely regulated by the provision of lipid for apolipoprotein B assembly. Intracellular stored TAG (triacylglycerol) undergoes an initial lipolysis followed by re-esterification of the lipolytic products to form TAG prior to their incorporation into a VLDL particle. TGH (TAG hydrolase) is a lipase that hydrolyses intracellular TAG within the hepatocyte. We have utilized both dexamethasone-injected mouse and primary hepatocyte models to address whether stimulation of TAG biosynthesis by the synthetic glucocorticoid, dexamethasone, altered hepatic lipolysis and re-esterification and the provision of stored TAG for lipoprotein secretion. Dexamethasone treatment resulted in decreased TGH expression, primarily due to a dexamethasone-induced decrease in TGH mRNA stability. The expression and activities of diacylglycerol acyltransferases 1 and 2 were stimulated by dexamethasone. The combination of reduced intracellular TAG lipolysis and increased TAG biosynthesis contributed to the accumulation of TAG within the livers of dexamethasone-injected mice. The rate of hepatic TAG secretion in dexamethasonetreated mice was maintained at similar levels as in control mice. Our data demonstrate that stimulation of de novo TAG synthesis by dexamethasone increased the proportion of secreted TAG that was derived from de novo sources, while the utilization of stored TAG for secretion was reduced. The results show that, during markedly increased TAG synthesis, some TAGs are diverted from the cytosolic storage pool and are utilized directly for VLDL assembly within the endoplasmic reticulum lumen.

Abbreviations used: apoB, apolipoprotein B; ARE, AU-rich element; dex, dexamethasone; DGAT, diacylglycerol acyltransferase; DMEM, Dulbecco's modified Eagle's medium; ER, endoplasmic reticulum; MUH, 4-methylumbelliferyl heptanoate; PDI, protein disulphide isomerase; RT-PCR, reverse transcription–PCR; SV40, simian virus 40; TAG, triacylglycerol; TGH, triacylglycerol hydrolase; UTR, un translated region; VLDL, very-low-density lipoprotein.

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