Role of sortilin 1 (SORT1) on fatty acid–mediated cholesterol metabolism in primary calf hepatocytes

Shuang Wang, Qianming Jiang, Juan J. Loor, Changhong Gao, Mingmao Yang, Yan Tian, Wenwen Fan, Bingbing Zhang, Ming Li, Chuang Xu, Wei Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ketosis is a common metabolic disorder in peripartal dairy cows that is caused by excessive mobilization of fat and incomplete hepatic metabolism of fatty acids (FFA). Recent data in nonruminant models revealed that sortilin 1 (SORT1) is involved in a variety of lipid metabolism–related diseases. It plays important roles in the regulation of triglyceride (TAG) and total cholesterol (TC) levels. In this study, we first used liver biopsies from healthy cows (serum β-hydroxybutyrate concentration <0.6 mM) and cows diagnosed with clinical ketosis (serum β-hydroxybutyrate concentration >3.0 mM) to assess alterations in cholesterol synthesis, transport, and excretion. Then, to assess mechanistic links between SORT1 and fatty acid–mediated cholesterol metabolism, hepatocytes isolated from 4 healthy female calves (1 d old, 35–45 kg) were challenged with or without a mixture of free fatty acids (FFA; 1.2 mM) to induce metabolic stress. Hepatocytes were then treated with empty adenovirus vectors (with green fluorescent protein; Ad-GFP) or with SORT1-overexpressing adenovirus (Ad-SORT1) for 6 h or with SORT1 inhibitor (SORT1i) for 2 h, followed by a challenge with (Ad-GFP+FFA, Ad-SORT1+FFA, or SORT1i+FFA) or without (Ad-GFP, Ad-SORT1, or SORT1i) 1.2 mM FFA mixture for 12 h. Data analysis of calf hepatocyte treatment comparisons were assessed by 2-way ANOVA, and multiplicity for each experiment was adjusted using the Bonferroni procedure. Expression levels of factors related to cholesterol synthesis, transport, and excretion in liver tissue of cows with ketosis was lower. Hepatocytes challenged with FFA had lower concentrations of TC and mRNA and protein abundances of sterol regulatory element-binding protein 2 (SREBF2), acetyl acyl coenzyme A-cholesterol acyltransferase 2 (ACAT2), ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1), ABC subfamily G member 5 (ABCG5), and ABC subfamily G member 8 (ABCG8). Compared with FFA challenge alone, SORT1i + FFA led to greater protein abundance of 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl coenzyme A reductase (HMGCR), ACAT2, and ABCG5, and greater mRNA abundance of ABCG5. Compared with FFA challenge alone, SORT1 overexpression led to lower protein abundance of SREBF2. In contrast, protein abundance of ABCA1 was greater. Overall, our data suggested that exogenous FFA induced abnormal cholesterol metabolism in hepatocytes, whereas a high abundance of SORT1 affected cholesterol esterification and potentially influx into bile. Thus, downregulation of hepatic SORT1 might be a cholesterol-regulated protective mechanism in the presence of a marked increase in FFA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7773-7786
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • lactation
  • lipoprotein
  • negative energy balance
  • nutrition
  • transition period

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Genetics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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