Incorporation of tritiated water into sterol in copper-deficient rats

Nannette Y. Yount, Timothy P. Carr, Donald J. McNamara, Kai Y. Lei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The effect of copper deficiency on absolute rates of cholesterol synthesis was investigated in the rat. Male weanling rats were fed semi-purified diets containing adequate (7.13 ppm) or deficient (0.621 ppm) levels of copper for 6 weeks. Copper-adequate and -deficient animals (n = 6/group) were injected intraperitoneally with 50 mCi 3H-labelled water and killed 1 h post-injection. Copper-deficient animals had elevated heart weights and reduced body and spleen weights. Plasma cholesterol levels were significantly elevated and hematocrits were reduced. Absolute rates of carcass cholesterol synthesis per organ were 1.9-fold higher in copper-deficient rats (P < 0.025). Previous studies have indicated that hepatic 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase (E.C. activity is increased by copper deficiency; however, de novo synthesis of cholesterol from 3H-labelled water was not significantly elevated in the liver. The present data indicate that newly synthesized cholesterol exported to the plasma was increased 2.1-fold (P < 0.01) in copper-deficient rats. Since it has been demonstrated that hepatic export of cholesterol is increased with copper deficiency and that the major tissue for export of newly synthesized cholesterol is the liver, we hypothesize that the origin of radiolabeled cholesterol in the plasma was the liver. These data support the hypothesis that elevated levels of hepatic HMG-CoA reductase seen with copper deficiency are associated with an increased rate of whole body and hepatic cholesterol synthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-84
Number of pages6
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)/Lipids and Lipid Metabolism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 26 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • (Rat)
  • Cholesterol
  • Copper deficiency
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Tritiated water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology

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