Cholesterol biosynthesis inhibited by BM15.766 induces holoprosencephaly in the rat

Teratology. 1997 Sep;56(3):188-200. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9926(199709)56:3<188::AID-TERA2>3.0.CO;2-Y.


To confirm that blocking 7-dehydrocholesterol delta 7 reductase (7DHC reductase), as observed in Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome (SLOS), induces craniofacial defects, we tested BM15.766, which blocks 7DHC reductase but is chemically unrelated to the holoprosencephaly-inducing teratogen AY9944. Rats were given BM15.766 either in methylcellulose from days (D) 1 through D11 (3 treated groups: protocol A) or in olive oil from D4 through D7 (300 mg/kg/d: protocol B). The sera were sampled on D0, D3, and D5 or D6, D10, D14, and D21 to measure cholesterol and dehydrocholesterols in all groups and steroid hormones in protocol B. D21 fetuses showed the holoprosencephaly spectrum of malformations and the treated dams low cholesterol and accumulation of 7DHC, 8DHC, and trienols, as in SLOS-affected children. In the 3 dosage groups the malformations were dose-related and enzymatic cholesterol decreased to a plateau. The DHC reached 25-44% of the total sterols in the dams. In protocol B, one-third of the BM15.766-treated fetuses presented facial malformations and almost two-thirds pituitary agenesis. On D10, cholesterol reached a minimum and the DHC a maximum while estradiol 17 beta and progesterone were lowered, the latter decreasing in correlation with cholesterolemia. A sterol profile similar to that previously observed after AY9944 associated with a similarly high incidence of pituitary agenesis confirmed that time-limited inhibition of 7DHC reductase induces holoprosencephaly and that pituitary agenesis is the minor form of holoprosencephaly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / toxicity*
  • Brain / abnormalities
  • Cholesterol / biosynthesis*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / toxicity*
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Female
  • Fetal Resorption / chemically induced
  • Holoprosencephaly / blood
  • Holoprosencephaly / chemically induced*
  • Holoprosencephaly / pathology
  • Male
  • Oxidoreductases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-CH Group Donors*
  • Piperazines / toxicity*
  • Pregnancy
  • Progesterone / blood
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Piperazines
  • Progesterone
  • Estradiol
  • BM 15766
  • Cholesterol
  • Oxidoreductases
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-CH Group Donors
  • 7-dehydrocholesterol reductase