Depleting LCAT Aggravates Atherosclerosis in LDLR-deficient Hamster with Reduced LDL-Cholesterol Level

J Adv Res. 2023 Nov 2:S2090-1232(23)00320-X. doi: 10.1016/j.jare.2023.10.016. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: Lecithin cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) plays a crucial role in acyl-esterifying cholesterol in plasma, which is essential for reverse cholesterol transport (RCT). Previous studies indicated that its activity on both α and β lipoproteins interpret its effects on lipoproteins for many controversial investigations of atherosclerosis.

Objectives: To better understand the relationship between LCAT, diet-induced dyslipidemia and atherosclerosis, we developed a double knockout (LCAT-/-&LDLR-/-, DKO) hamster model to evaluate the specific role of LCAT independent of LDL clearance effects.

Methods: Plasma triglyceride (TG), total cholesterol (TC), high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C), and free cholesterol (FC) levels were measured using biochemical reagent kits. FPLC was performed to analyze the components of lipoproteins. Apolipoprotein content was assessed using western blotting (WB). The hamsters were fed a high cholesterol/high fat diet (HCHFD) to induce atherosclerosis. Oil Red O staining was employed to detect plaque formation. Peritoneal macrophages were studied to investigate the effects of LCAT on cholesterol uptake and efflux.

Results: On HCHFD, DKO hamsters exhibited significantly elevated levels of TG and FC, while HDL-C was nearly undetectable without affecting TC levels, as compared to low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR)-deficient (LDLR-/-, LKO) hamsters. Lipoprotein profiling revealed a marked increase in plasma chylomicron/very low-density lipoprotein (CM/VLDL) fractions, along with an unexpected reduction in LDL fraction in DKO hamsters. Furthermore, DKO hamsters displayed aggravated atherosclerotic lesions in the aorta, aortic root, and coronary artery relative to LKO hamsters, attributed to a pro-atherogenic lipoprotein profile and impaired cholesterol efflux in macrophages.

Conclusions: Our study demonstrates the beneficial role of LCAT in inhibiting atherosclerotic development and highlights the distinctive lipid metabolism characteristics in hamsters with familial hypercholesterolemia.

Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Coronary disease; LCAT; LDL; Triglyceride.