Recently, the importance of lysosomes in the context of the metabolic syndrome has received increased attention. Increased lysosomal cholesterol storage and cholesterol crystallization inside macrophages have been linked to several metabolic diseases, such as atherosclerosis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Two-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HP-B-CD) is able to redirect lysosomal cholesterol to the cytoplasm in Niemann-Pick type C1 disease, a lysosomal storage disorder. We hypothesize that HP-B-CD ameliorates liver cholesterol and intracellular cholesterol levels inside Kupffer cells (KCs). Hyperlipidemic low-density lipoprotein receptor knockout (Ldlr(-/-)) mice were given weekly, subcutaneous injections with HP-B-CD or control PBS. In contrast to control injections, hyperlipidemic mice treated with HP-B-CD demonstrated a shift in intracellular cholesterol distribution towards cytoplasmic cholesteryl ester (CE) storage and a decrease in cholesterol crystallization inside KCs. Compared to untreated hyperlipidemic mice, the foamy KC appearance and liver cholesterol remained similar upon HP-B-CD administration, while hepatic campesterol and 7α-hydroxycholesterol levels were back increased. Thus, HP-B-CD could be a useful tool to improve intracellular cholesterol levels in the context of the metabolic syndrome, possibly through modulation of phyto- and oxysterols, and should be tested in the future. Additionally, these data underline the existence of a shared etiology between lysosomal storage diseases and NAFLD.
Keywords: NAFLD; cyclodextrin; electron microscopy; lysosomes; metabolic syndrome.