Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type





Pharmaceutical Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Gregory Graf


ATP-binding cassette transporters ABCA1 and ABCG1 initiate reverse cholesterol transport generating HDL particles, whereas ABCG5/G8 promote biliary cholesterol secretion thereby facilitating the last step of reverse cholesterol transport. Mutations in the leptin axis result in obesity and dyslipidemia in ob/ob and db/db mice. These mice have defective HDL clearance, increased plasma cholesterol and decreased biliary cholesterol elimination. My studies demonstrate that ABCG5/G8 protein is low in these animals and can be restored with caloric restriction or leptin replacement. To directly test whether ABCG5/G8 alone is able to correct reverse cholesterol transport defect, liver specific ABCG5/G8 expression was achieved in db/db mice by administration of adenoviral ABCG5 and ABCG8. Restoration of biliary cholesterol is able partially to correct dyslipidemia in obese mice, but only in the presence of ezetimibe, an inhibitor of cholesterol absorption.

ABCG5/G8 is the body’s primary defense against toxic effects of plant sterols. Plant sterols are used as cholesterol lowering food supplements. However, increased plasma plant sterol concentrations are associated with vascular lesions in dyslipidemic patients and animals. My in vitro studies demonstrate that individual plant sterol alter ABCA1 and ABCG1 abundance, cholesterol efflux and inflammatory cytokine secretion in macrophage foam cells at levels found in humans that consume plant sterol supplements.