Three-fold effect of lovastatin treatment on low density lipoprotein metabolism in subjects with hyperlipidemia: Increase in receptor activity, decrease in apoB production, and decrease in particle affinity for the receptor. Results from a novel triple-tracer approach

Lars Berglund, Joseph L. Witztum, Narmer F. Galeano, Andrew S. Khouw, Henry N. Ginsberg, Rajasekhar Ramakrishnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Scopus citations


To differentiate effects of lovastatin on low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor activity from effects on LDL metabolic properties, LDL apolipoprotein B (apoB) turnover was studied in eight hyperlipidemic subjects during baseline and lovastatin treatment, in the latter case with LDL tracers isolated during both baseline (C-LDL) and drug treatment (Rx-LDL) conditions. Lovastatin (40 mg/day) significantly lowered total plasma and LDL cholesterol levels (27% and 25%, respectively) as well as plasma triglyceride levels (30%). Using contemporaneous tracers (C-LDL before and Rx-LDL during treatment), lovastatin caused a modest increase in LDL fractional catabolic rate (FCR) (0.410 ± 0.113 vs. 0.339 ± 0.108 pools/day, P < 0.04 by paired t). The increase in LDL tracer FCR was higher when C-LDL tracer isolated during the untreated period was injected during lovastatin treatment (0.496 ± 0.177 vs. 0.339 ± 0.108 pools/day, P < 0.02). These in vivo studies in humans were confirmed by injecting LDL tracers from two patients into five guinea pigs. The C-LDL tracer was cleared consistently faster than the Rx- LDL tracer (0.082 ± 0.018 vs. 0.057 ± 0.015 pools/h, P < 0.001). The results demonstrate three important outcomes of lovastatin treatment in these subjects: LDL receptor activity increased by 49% (P < 0.02); LDL apoB production rate decreased by 17% (P < 0.03), and LDL particle in vivo affinity for the LDL receptor decreased by 15% (P < 0.01). The decrease in LDL particle affinity partially negated the expected effect of increased LDL receptors on LDL clearance. The present study provides an explanation for earlier observations by several investigators using contemporaneous tracers that treatment with HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors resulted in only modest increases in low density lipoprotein functional catabolic rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)913-924
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Lipid Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1998



  • Apolipoprotein B
  • HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors
  • LDL receptor
  • Lipid-lowering therapy
  • Lipoprotein metabolism
  • Tracer kinetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology

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