Background & aims: The Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome is a recessive inherited disorder characterized by neurological developmental defects and dysmorphic features with a defect in cholesterol synthesis at the conversion of 7-dehydrocholesterol to cholesterol. BM 15.766 inhibits 7-dehydrocholesterol-delta 7-reductase and reproduces the biochemical defect. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of cholesterol, cholic acid, and lovastatin feeding on rats fed BM 15.766.
Methods: Plasma cholesterol and 7-dehydrocholesterol concentrations were related to the hepatic 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase.
Results: With the inhibitor treatment, plasma cholesterol concentrations decreased 67%; 7-dehydrocholesterol concentrations increased from trace to 17 mg/dL; and hepatic HMG-CoA reductase activity and messenger RNA levels were stimulated 74% and two times, respectively. In inhibitor-treated rats, feeding cholesterol increased plasma cholesterol concentrations 3.7 times, decreased 7-dehydrocholesterol concentrations 88%, and reduced elevated HMG-CoA reductase activity and messenger RNA levels 74% and 49%. Feeding cholic acid increased plasma cholesterol without reducing 7-dehydrocholesterol concentrations. The combination of cholic acid and cholesterol enhanced plasma cholesterol 9.5 times without decreasing 7-dehydrocholesterol levels. Feeding lovastatin depressed plasma cholesterol further without reducing 7-dehydrocholesterol levels.
Conclusions: Cholesterol is essential to correct abnormal cholesterol synthesis induced by BM 15.766 in rats by expanding the pool and inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase. Neither cholic acid nor lovastatin are effective separately, but cholic acid plus cholesterol may offer some additional benefit.