Niemann-Pick C1-Like 1 (NPC1L1) protein in intestinal and hepatic cholesterol transport

Lin Jia, Jenna L. Betters, Liqing Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

248 Scopus citations


Increased blood cholesterol is an independent risk factor for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Cholesterol homeostasis in the body is controlled mainly by endogenous synthesis, intestinal absorption, and hepatic excretion. Niemann-Pick C1-Like 1 (NPC1L1) is a polytopic transmembrane protein localized at the apical membrane of enterocytes and the canalicular membrane of hepatocytes. It functions as a sterol transporter to mediate intestinal cholesterol absorption and counterbalances hepatobiliary cholesterol excretion. NPC1L1 is the molecular target of ezetimibe, a potent cholesterol absorption inhibitor that is widely used in treating hypercholesterolemia. Recent findings suggest that NPC1L1 deficiency or ezetimibe treatment also prevents diet-induced hepatic steatosis and obesity in addition to reducing blood cholesterol. Future studies should focus on molecular mechanisms underlying NPC1L1-dependent cholesterol transport and elucidation of how a cholesterol transporter modulates the pathogenesis of metabolic diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-259
Number of pages21
JournalAnnual review of physiology
StatePublished - 2011


  • ezetimibe
  • fat absorption
  • hepatic steatosis
  • obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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