We investigated whether the apolipoprotein-E (apoE) phenotype and the basal activity of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor, which were reported to be the major determinants for increase in plasma LDL levels by cholesterol ingestion, have the same role in Japanese subjects whose diet is low in fat and cholesterol. Cholesterol (750 mg/d) was added to the ordinary diet as a dried egg-yolk supplement for 4 wk to 110 subjects. Plasma levels of lipids, apolipoproteins, and cholesterol in lipoprotein subfractions were measured at the beginning and end of the test period. Phenotyping of apoE was determined by an isoelectric focusing-immunoblotting method, and LDL receptor activity in lymphocytes was determined by flow cytometry. Plasma levels of cholesterol in less-dense LDL (LDL1) and less-dense high-density lipoprotein (HDL2) were slightly but significantly increased, 3.4% and 4.1%, respectively, by cholesterol ingestion, but the increases were not statistically significant in any of E2, E3, and E4 groups. The distribution of the apoE phenotype was equivalent in all three LDL-cholesterol groups (no change, increase, and decrease by cholesterol ingestion). Plasma levels of LDL, LDL1, and LDL2 cholesterol were not significantly increased in the three groups of subjects with lymphocyte LDL-receptor activities (low, medium, and high). As with apoE phenotype, LDL-receptor activities were the same in all three LDL-cholesterol groups. In addition, there were no significant correlations between LDL-receptor activity and changes in plasma levels of lipids, apolipoproteins, and cholesterol in lipoprotein subfractions. Therefore, we concluded that cholesterol ingestion significantly increases plasma levels of less-dense LDL and HDL, but neither apoE phenotype nor basal LDL-receptor activity explain the variability in changes in plasma lipoprotein subfractions by cholesterol ingestion in Japanese subjects.
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