Inhibiting intestinal NPC1L1 activity prevents diet-induced increase in biliary cholesterol in Golden Syrian hamsters

Mark A. Valasek, Joyce J. Repa, Gang Quan, John M. Dietschy, Stephen D. Turley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Niemann-Pick C1-like 1 (NPC1L1) facilitates the uptake of sterols into the enterocyte and is the target of the novel cholesterol absorption inhibitor, ezetimibe. These studies used the Golden Syrian hamster as a model to delineate the changes in the relative mRNA expression of NPC1L1 and other proteins that regulate sterol homeostasis in the enterocyte during and following cessation of ezetimibe treatment and also to address the clinically important question of whether the marked inhibition of cholesterol absorption alters biliary lipid composition. In hamsters fed a low-cholesterol, low-fat basal diet, the abundance of mRNA for NPC1L1 in the small intestine far exceeded that in other regions of the gastrointestinal tract, liver, and gallbladder. In the first study, female hamsters were fed the basal diet containing ezetimibe at doses up to 2.0 mg·day-1·kg body wt-1. At this dose, cholesterol absorption fell by 82%, fecal neutral sterol excretion increased by 5.3-fold, and hepatic and intestinal cholesterol synthesis increased more than twofold, but there were no significant changes in either fecal bile acid excretion or biliary lipid composition. The ezetimibe-induced changes in intestinal cholesterol handling were reversed when treatment was withdrawn. In a second study, male hamsters were given a diet enriched in cholesterol and safflower oil without or with ezetimibe. The lipid-rich diet raised the absolute and relative cholesterol levels in bile more than fourfold. This increase was largely prevented by ezetimibe. These data are consistent with the recent finding that ezetimibe treatment significantly reduced biliary cholesterol saturation in patients with gallstones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G813-G822
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • Cholesterol absorption
  • Cholesterol gallstone disease
  • Enterocyte
  • Gallbladder bile
  • Liver

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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