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Plin2 deletion increases cholesteryl ester lipid droplet content and disturbs cholesterol balance in adrenal cortex.

Journal of Lipid Research – 2021


Li Y, Khanal P, Norheim F, Hjorth M, Bjellaas T, Drevon CA, Vaage J, Kimmel AR, Dalen KT.


Journal of Lipid Research



Cholesteryl esters (CEs) are the water-insoluble transport and storage form of cholesterol. Steroidogenic cells primarily store CEs in cytoplasmic lipid droplet (LD) organelles, as contrasted to the majority of mammalian cell types that predominantly store triacylglycerol (TAG) in LDs. The LD-binding Plin2 binds to both CE- and TAG-rich LDs, and although Plin2 is known to regulate degradation of TAG-rich LDs, its role for regulation of CE-rich LDs is unclear. To investigate the role of Plin2 in the regulation of CE-rich LDs, we performed histological and molecular characterization of adrenal glands from Plin2+/+ and Plin2−/− mice. Adrenal glands of Plin2−/− mice had significantly enlarged organ size, increased size and numbers of CE-rich LDs in cortical cells, elevated cellular unesterified cholesterol levels, and increased expression of macrophage markers and genes facilitating reverse cholesterol transport. Despite altered LD storage, mobilization of adrenal LDs and secretion of corticosterone induced by adrenocorticotropic hormone stimulation or starvation were similar in Plin2+/+ and Plin2−/− mice. Plin2−/− adrenals accumulated ceroid-like structures rich in multilamellar bodies in the adrenal cortex-medulla boundary, which increased with age, particularly in females. Finally, Plin2−/− mice displayed unexpectedly high levels of phosphatidylglycerols, which directly paralleled the accumulation of these ceroid-like structures. Our findings demonstrate an important role of Plin2 for regulation of CE-rich LDs and cellular cholesterol balance in the adrenal cortex.