The mechanism by which granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) lowers plasma cholesterol levels is not well understood. We tested recombinant human GM-CSF (rhGM-CSF) on plasma cholesterol and triglycerides in rabbits and attempted to determine the mechanisms of the cholesterol- lowering effect. rhGM-CSF (20 μg · kg-1 · d-1) was administered to normal and cholesterol-fed rabbits for 2 weeks and to Watanabe heritable hyperlipidemic (WHHL) rabbits for 1 week. The administration of rhGM-CSF markedly lowered cholesterol and triglycerides, an effect that persisted in normal and cholesterol-fed rabbits even after termination of treatment. The cholesterol-lowering effect of rhGM-CSF was also observed in WHHL rabbits. rhGM-CSF was capable of stimulating granulocyte-macrophage colony formation in vitro in rabbits with an effect comparable to that in humans. Northern blot analysis with rabbit very-low-density-lipoprotein (VLDL) receptor cDNA revealed that rhGM-CSF increased the levels of VLDL receptor mRNA in muscle of rabbits after only 1.5 hours of treatment compared with control (2.6- fold), with the 1.5-fold increase following a 5-day administration. No changes in the levels of LDL receptor mRNA in liver, spleen, and bone marrow were observed in the treated rabbits. These findings suggest that the cholesterol-lowering effect of rhGM-CSF may be mediated by enhancement of macrophage functions in lipid metabolism and the increase in mRNA for VLDL receptor in rabbits.
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