The effects of sterol structure upon sterol esterification

Don S. Lin, Robert D. Steiner, Louise S. Merkens, Anuradha S. Pappu, William E. Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Cholesterol is esterified in mammals by two enzymes: LCAT (lecithin cholesterol acyltransferase) in plasma and ACAT1 and ACAT2 (acyl-CoA cholesterol acyltransferases) in the tissues. We hypothesized that the sterol structure may have significant effects on the outcome of esterification by these enzymes. To test this hypothesis, we analyzed sterol esters in plasma and tissues in patients having non-cholesterol sterols (sitosterolemia and Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome). The esterification of a given sterol was defined as the sterol ester percentage of total sterols. The esterification of cholesterol in plasma by LCAT was 67% and in tissues by ACAT was 64%. Esterification of nine sterols (cholesterol, cholestanol, campesterol, stigmasterol, sitosterol, campestanol, sitostanol, 7-dehydrocholesterol and 8-dehydrocholesterol) was examined. The relative esterification (cholesterol being 1.0) of these sterols by the plasma LCAT was 1.00, 0.95, 0.89, 0.40, 0.85, 0.82 and 0.80, 0.69 and 0.82, respectively. The esterification by the tissue ACAT was 1.00, 1.29, 0.75, 0.49, 0.45, 1.21 and 0.74, respectively. The predominant fatty acid of the sterol esters was linoleic acid for LCAT and oleic acid for ACAT. We compared the esterification of two sterols differing by only one functional group (a chemical group attached to sterol nucleus) and were able to quantify the effects of individual functional groups on sterol esterification. The saturation of the A ring of cholesterol increased ester formation by ACAT by 29% and decreased the esterification by LCAT by 5.9%. Esterification by ACAT and LCAT was reduced, respectively, by 25 and 11% by the presence of an additional methyl group on the side chain of cholesterol at the C-24 position. This data supports our hypothesis that the structure of the sterol substrate has a significant effect on its esterification by ACAT or LCAT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-160
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • ACAT (acyl-CoA cholesterol acyltransferase)
  • Esterified sterols
  • Free sterols
  • LCAT (lecithin cholesterol acyltransferase)
  • Plant and SLOS sterols

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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