Enrichment of Mammalian Tissues and Xenopus Oocytes with Cholesterol

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Abstract

Cholesterol enrichment of mammalian tissues and cells, including Xenopus oocytes used for studying cell function, can be accomplished using a variety of methods. Here, we describe two important approaches used for this purpose. First, we describe how to enrich tissues and cells with cholesterol using cyclodextrin saturated with cholesterol using cerebral arteries (tissues) and hippocampal neurons (cells) as examples. This approach can be used for any type of tissue, cells, or cell lines. An alternative approach for cholesterol enrichment involves the use of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). The advantage of this approach is that it uses part of the natural cholesterol homeostasis machinery of the cell. However, whereas the cyclodextrin approach can be applied to enrich any cell type of interest with cholesterol, the LDL approach is limited to cells that express LDL receptors (e.g., liver cells, bone marrow-derived cells such as blood leukocytes and tissue macrophages), and the level of enrichment depends on the concentration and the mobility of the LDL receptor. Furthermore, LDL particles include other lipids, so cholesterol delivery is nonspecific. Second, we describe how to enrich Xenopus oocytes with cholesterol using a phospholipid-based dispersion (i.e., liposomes) that includes cholesterol. Xenopus oocytes constitute a popular heterologous expression system used for studying cell and protein function. For both the cyclodextrin-based cholesterol enrichment approach of mammalian tissue (cerebral arteries) and for the phospholipid-based cholesterol enrichment approach of Xenopus oocytes, we demonstrate that cholesterol levels reach a maximum following 5-10 min of incubation. This level of cholesterol remains constant during extended periods of incubation (e.g., 60 min). Together, these data provide the basis for optimized temporal conditions for cholesterol enrichment of tissues, cells, and Xenopus oocytes for functional studies aimed at interrogating the impact of cholesterol enrichment.