Leptin concentrations and SCD-1 indices in classical homocystinuria: Evidence for the role of sulfur amino acids in the regulation of lipid metabolism.
Sulphur-containing amino acids regulate plasma cholesterol levels in animals and humans. However, their mechanism of action remains unclear. Low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) plays an important role in cholesterol metabolism. We therefore investigated the effects of sulphur-containing amino acids on the expression of LDLR in hepatocytes. HepG2 cells were cultured in Dulbecco's Modified Eagle's Medium with or without sulphur-containing amino acids and cysteine-containing compounds. We found that L-cysteine increased LDLR mRNA and enhanced LDLR gene promoter activity through the extracellular-signal-related kinase and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase signalling pathways in HepG2 cells. Moreover, we observed that L-cysteine stimulated the release of transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-α) and that TGF-α increased the LDLR mRNA levels. This study provides a report of the L-cysteine mediated up-regulation of the LDLR expression via TGF-α signalling pathway. Our findings provide insights into cholesterol homeostasis and amino acid signalling.