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Open Access Research article

Inhibition of pancreatic cholesterol esterase reduces cholesterol absorption in the hamster

John E Heidrich1, Linda M Contos1, Lucy A Hunsaker2, Lorraine M Deck3 and David L Vander Jagt2*

Author Affiliations

1 Albuquerque Avian, Exotic, and Small Animal Clinic, 8414 Fourth Street, NW, Albuquerque, NM 87114, USA

2 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, NM 78131, USA

3 Department of Chemistry, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA

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BMC Pharmacology 2004, 4:5  doi:10.1186/1471-2210-4-5

Published: 19 April 2004



Pancreatic cholesterol esterase has three proposed functions in the intestine: 1) to control the bioavailability of cholesterol from dietary cholesterol esters; 2) to contribute to incorporation of cholesterol into mixed micelles; and 3) to aid in transport of free cholesterol to the enterocyte. Inhibitors of cholesterol esterase are anticipated to limit the absorption of dietary cholesterol.


The selective and potent cholesterol esterase inhibitor 6-chloro-3-(1-ethyl-2-cyclohexyl)-2-pyrone (figure 1, structure

) was administered to hamsters fed a high cholesterol diet supplemented with radiolabeled cholesterol ester. Hamsters were gavage fed 3H-labeled cholesteryl oleate along with inhibitor
, 0–200 micromoles. Twenty-four hours later, hepatic and serum radioactive cholesterol levels were determined. The ED50 of inhibitor
for prevention of the uptake of labeled cholesterol derived from hydrolysis of labeled cholesteryl oleate was 100 micromoles. The toxicity of inhibitor
was investigated in a 30 day feeding trial. Inhibitor
, 100 micromoles or 200 micromoles per day, was added to chow supplemented with 1% cholesterol and 0.5% cholic acid. Clinical chemistry urinalysis and tissue histopathology were obtained. No toxicity differences were noted between control and inhibitor supplemented groups.


Inhibitors of cholesterol esterase may be useful therapeutics for limiting cholesterol absorption.