Cholesterol is an essential plasma membrane lipid for the maintenance of cellular homeostasis and cancer cell proliferation. Free cholesterol is harmful to cells; therefore, excessive free cholesterol must be quickly esterified by acetyl-coenzyme A:cholesterol acetyltransferase (ACAT) and exported by scavenger receptor class B member I (SR-BI) or ATP-binding cassette protein A1 from specific cells such as macrophage foam cells, which contain cholesteryl ester-derived vacuoles. Many vacuoles are present in the cytoplasm of Burkitt lymphoma cells. In this study, we observed that these vacuoles are often seen in high-grade lymphomas. Cell culture study using lymphoma cell lines found that esterified cholesterol is the main component of these vacuoles and the expression of cholesterol metabolism-related molecules was significantly upregulated in lymphoma cell lines, with SR-BI and ACAT inhibitors (BLT-1 and CI-976, respectively) impeding lymphoma cell proliferation. Cytoplasmic free cholesterol was increased by ACAT and SR-BI inhibitors, and the accumulation of free cholesterol induced lymphoma cell apoptosis by inducing endoplasmic reticulum stress. Furthermore, synergistic effects of SR-BI and ACAT inhibitors were observed in a preclinical study. Treatment with SR-BI inhibitor suppressed lymphoma progression in a tumor-bearing mouse model, whereas ACAT inhibitor did not. Therefore, SR-BI inhibitors are potential new antilymphoma therapeutics that target cholesterol metabolism.
Keywords: ACAT; ER stress; SR-BI; cholesterol; lymphoma.
© 2022 The Authors. Cancer Science published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Japanese Cancer Association.