Simvastatin causes the formation of cholesterol-rich remnants in mice lacking apoE

Tao Fu, Jayme Borensztajn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Mice that lack apolipoprotein E (apoE) display a severe hypercholesterolemia, caused by the accumulation of apolipoprotein B-48 (apoB-48)-carrying remnants of chylomicrons and very-low-density lipoproteins in the plasma. Statins are potent inhibitors of cholesterol synthesis that, when administered to mice lacking apoE, cause paradoxical further increases in plasma cholesterol levels. In the present study, we examined the mechanisms responsible for this phenomenon. ApoE-deficient mice fed a chow diet containing simvastatin developed, as anticipated, an enhanced increase in plasma cholesterol and a decrease in plasma triglycerides. Fractionation of the plasma lipoproteins by FPLC revealed that the lipid changes were confined to the lipoprotein remnants. Western blot analysis of the remnants from the untreated and simvastatin-treated mice showed no differences in their apoB-48 content, indicating that both groups of animals accumulated similar numbers of remnant particles in the plasma. Following the injection of Triton WR-1339, the simvastatin-treated mice accumulated in the plasma significantly more cholesterol and significantly less triglycerides than the untreated animals. These results indicate that the enhanced hypercholesterolemia observed in apoE-deficient mice treated with simvastatin is not the result of an increased number of remnant particles in circulation but is caused by synthesis and secretion into the plasma of lipoproteins that are enriched in cholesterol and depleted of triglycerides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1172-1176
Number of pages5
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 24 2006


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Cholesterol
  • Lipoproteins
  • Mice
  • Remnants
  • Statins
  • apoB
  • apoE

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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