, Volume 240, Issue 1-2, pp 67-73

Estrogen-induced regulation of the ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1) in mice: A possible mechanism of atheroprotection by estrogen

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Estrogens are suggested to be antiatherogenic by affecting the vessel wall components. Since ABCA1 was recently shown to be atheroprotective, it was examined if estrogen-induced atheroprotection occurs partly via the regulation of the ABCA1. Since hepatic ABCA1 expression was also suggested to contribute to the bulk HDL levels, regulation of the ABCA1 under conditions of high or low levels of HDL were investigated in mice expressing normal or elevated levels of apoAI. To delineate whether estrogen's effect occurs via estrogen receptor-α-mediated pathway, the estrogen receptor-α-deficient (ER-α)−/− mice were also administered either placebo or β-estradiol for 5 consecutive days. Estrogen treatments decreased circulating HDL levels by 30%, but increased hepatic and intestinal ABCA1 mRNA by 2- and 1.5-fold, respectively. Hepatic ABCA1 mRNA also increased in the ER-α−/− mice by 3-fold. These results suggest that estrogen, despite lowering the levels of HDL, it up-regulated the hepatic ABCA1 mRNA, and in the absence of ER-α, ER-β could compensate for ER-α. To study whether HDL levels correlate with the ABCA1 expression, wild-type (WT) and the apoAI transgenic (A1-Tg) mice were fed high fat (HF) diet with or without cholic acid (CA) for 3 weeks. One group of mice was treated with fenofibrate, known to elevate HDL levels. CA without HF decreased HDL levels, while fenofibrate increased HDL levels. However, neither CA nor fenofibrate altered hepatic ABCA1 mRNA levels. HF diet increased the hepatic ABCA1 mRNA 1.8-fold in WT, but lowered ABCA1 mRNA by 2-fold in A1-Tg mice, suggesting that ABCA1 levels did not correlate with circulating HDL levels, while basal levels of HDL influenced ABCA1 expression. These data show for the first time that estrogen's antiatherogenic effects may occur via ABCA1-mediated pathway, and circulating HDL levels may influence expression of ABCA1.