These studies were undertaken to quantify cholesterol balance across the plasma space and the individual organs of the mouse, and to determine the role of the low density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) in these two processes. In the normal mouse (129 Sv), sterol was synthesized at the rate of 153 mg/d per kg body weight of which 78% occurred in the extrahepatic tissues while only 22% took place in the liver. These animals metabolized 7.1 pools of LDL- cholesterol (LDL-C) per day, and 79% of this degradation took place in the liver. Of this total turnover, the LDLR accounted for 88% while the remaining 12% was receptor independent. 91% of the receptor-dependent transport identified in these animals was located in the liver while only 38% of the receptor-independent uptake was found in this organ. When the LDLR was deleted, the LDL-C production rate increased 1.7-fold, LDL-C turnover decreased from 7.1 to 0.88 pools/d, and the plasma LDL-C level increased 14- fold, from 7 to 101 mg/dl. Despite these major changes in the circulating levels of LDL-C, however, there was no change in the rate of cholesterol synthesis in any extrahepatic organ or in the whole animal, and, further, there was no change in the steady-state cholesterol concentration in any organ. Thus, most extrahepatic tissues synthesize their daily sterol requirements while most LDL-C is returned directly to the liver. Changes in LDLR activity, therefore, profoundly alter the plasma LDL-C concentration but have virtually no affect on cholesterol balance across any extrahepatic organ, including the brain.
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