Simvastatin-induced decrease in the transfer of cholesterol esters from high density lipoproteins to very low and low density lipoproteins in normolipidemic subjects

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      Hyperlipidemic patients often have an accelerated esterified cholesterol transfer (ECT) from high density lipoproteins (HDL) to very low (VLDL) and low density lipoproteins (LDL). We investigated the effect of simvastatin on ECT in twelve normolipidemic subjects. After 6 weeks of simvastatin administration, ECT was decreased by 23%. To determine the mechanism of action of simvastatin, we measured ECT in different recombination experiments, using an isotopic assay in which the transfer of labelled EC from HDL to VLDL/LDL was determined. When HDL of the treated subjects were incubated with VLDL/LDL and CETP fractions isolated from control plasma, no effect of simvastatin was observed, indicating that the drug did not alter the HDL-dependent ECT. This might be expected since simvastatin induced only minor modifications of HDL structure. When HDL and VLDL/LDL of control plasma were incubated with CETP fractions of the treated subjects, a clear reduction of ECT occurred after simvastatin administration. The decrease of plasma transfer activity was correlated to that of CETP concentration and accounted for the simvastatin-induced lowering of ECT. The diminution of plasma CETP was correlated to that of the apo B-containing lipoproteins concentration. This finding confirms previous reports suggesting a relationship between LDL level and CETP activity. In conclusion, our work shows that simvastatin administration results in a decrease of ECT and that this effect occurs through a lowering of plasma CETP activity.


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