Background and aims: Genetically modified mice have been used extensively to study human disease. However, the data gained are not always translatable to humans because of major species differences. Liver-humanized mice (LHM) are considered a promising model to study human hepatic and systemic metabolism. Therefore, we aimed to further explore their lipoprotein metabolism and to characterize key hepatic species-related, physiological differences.
Approach and results: Fah-/- , Rag2-/- , and Il2rg-/- knockout mice on the nonobese diabetic (FRGN) background were repopulated with primary human hepatocytes from different donors. Cholesterol lipoprotein profiles of LHM showed a human-like pattern, characterized by a high ratio of low-density lipoprotein to high-density lipoprotein, and dependency on the human donor. This pattern was determined by a higher level of apolipoprotein B100 in circulation, as a result of lower hepatic mRNA editing and low-density lipoprotein receptor expression, and higher levels of circulating proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9. As a consequence, LHM lipoproteins bind to human aortic proteoglycans in a pattern similar to human lipoproteins. Unexpectedly, cholesteryl ester transfer protein was not required to determine the human-like cholesterol lipoprotein profile. Moreover, LHM treated with GW3965 mimicked the negative lipid outcomes of the first human trial of liver X receptor stimulation (i.e., a dramatic increase of cholesterol and triglycerides in circulation). Innovatively, LHM allowed the characterization of these effects at a molecular level.
Conclusions: LHM represent an interesting translatable model of human hepatic and lipoprotein metabolism. Because several metabolic parameters displayed donor dependency, LHM may also be used in studies for personalized medicine.
© 2019 The Authors. Hepatology published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc., on behalf of American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.