Liver-Specific Deletion of 3-Hydroxy-3-Methylglutaryl Coenzyme A Reductase Causes Hepatic Steatosis and Death
Objective—3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase (HMGCR) catalyzes the rate-limiting step in cholesterol biosynthesis and has proven to be an effective target of lipid-lowering drugs, statins. The aim of this study was to understand the role of hepatic HMGCR in vivo.
Methods and Results—To disrupt the HMGCR gene in liver, we generated mice homozygous for a floxed HMGCR allele and heterozygous for a transgene encoding Cre recombinase under the control of the albumin promoter (liver-specific HMGCR knockout mice). Ninety-six percent of male and 71% of female mice died by 6 weeks of age, probably as a result of liver failure or hypoglycemia. At 5 weeks of age, liver-specific HMGCR knockout mice showed severe hepatic steatosis with apoptotic cells, hypercholesterolemia, and hypoglycemia. The hepatic steatosis and death were completely reversed by providing the animals with mevalonate, indicating its essential role in normal liver function. There was a modest decrease in hepatic cholesterol synthesis in liver-specific HMGCR knockout mice. Instead, they showed a robust increase in the fatty acid synthesis, independent of sterol regulatory element binding protein-1c.
Conclusion—Hepatocyte HMGCR is essential for the survival of mice, and its abrogation elicits hepatic steatosis with jaundice and hypoglycemia.
- Received May 2, 2011.
- Accepted April 30, 2012.
- © 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.