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Oxysterol sulfation plays an important role in regulation of lipid metabolism and inflammatory responses. In the present study, we report the discovery of a novel regulatory sulfated oxysterol in nuclei of primary rat hepatocytes after overexpression of the gene encoding mitochondrial cholesterol delivery protein (StarD1). Forty-eight hours after infection of the hepatocytes with recombinant StarD1 adenovirus, a water-soluble oxysterol product was isolated and purified by chemical extraction and reverse-phase HPLC. Tandem mass spectrometry analysis identified the oxysterol as 5-cholesten-3β, 25-diol, disulfate (25HCDS), and confirmed the structure by comparing with a chemically synthesized compound. Administration of 25HCDS to human THP-1-derived macrophages or HepG2 cells significantly inhibited cholesterol synthesis and markedly decreased lipid levels in vivo in NAFLD mouse models. RT-PCR showed that 25HCDS significantly decreased SREBP-1/2 activities by suppressing expression of their responding genes, including ACC, FAS, and HMG-CoA reductase. Analysis of lipid profiles in the liver tissues showed that administration of 25HCDS significantly decreased cholesterol, free fatty acids, and triglycerides by 30, 25, and 20%, respectively. The results suggest that 25HCDS inhibits lipid biosynthesis via blocking SREBP signaling. We conclude that 25HCDS is a potent regulator of lipid metabolism and propose its biosynthetic pathway.
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