Blackcurrant anthocyanins stimulated cholesterol transport via post-transcriptional induction of LDL receptor in Caco-2 cells

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Purposes: We previously showed that polyphenol-rich blackcurrant extract (BCE) showed a hypocholesterolemic effect in mice fed a high fat diet. As direct cholesterol removal from the body via the intestine has been recently appreciated, we investigated the effect of BCE on the modulation of genes involved in intestinal cholesterol transport using Caco-2 cells as an in vitro model. Methods: Caco-2 cells were treated with BCE to determine its effects on mRNA and protein expression of genes important for intestinal cholesterol transport, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) uptake, cellular cholesterol content, and cholesterol transport from basolateral to apical membrane of Caco-2 cell monolayers. Cells were also treated with anthocyanin-rich or -poor fraction of BCE to determine the role of anthocyanin on BCE effects. Results: BCE significantly increased protein levels of LDL receptor (LDLR) without altering its mRNA, which consequently increased LDL uptake into Caco-2 cells. This post-transcriptional induction of LDLR by BCE was markedly attenuated in the presence of rapamycin, an inhibitor of mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1). In addition, BCE altered genes involved in cholesterol transport in the enterocytes, including apical and basolateral cholesterol transporters, in such a way that could enhance cholesterol flux from the basolateral to apical side of the enterocytes. Indeed, BCE significantly increased the flux of LDL-derived cholesterol from the basolateral to the apical chamber of Caco-2 monolayer. LDLR protein levels were markedly increased by anthocyanin-rich fraction, but not by anthocyanin-free fraction. Conclusion: mTORC1-dependent post-transcriptional induction of LDLR by BCE anthocyanins drove the transport of LDL-derived cholesterol to the apical side of the enterocytes. This may represent a potential mechanism for the hypocholesterolemic effect of BCE.

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European Journal of Nutrition