Exogenously hypercholesterolemic (ExHC) rats develop diet-induced hypercholesterolemia (DIHC) when fed with dietary cholesterol. Previously, we reported that, under the high-sucrose-diet-feeding condition, a loss-of-function mutation in Smek2 results in low activity of fatty acid synthase (FAS) followed by the shortage of hepatic triacylglycerol content in ExHC rats and the onset of DIHC. However, the relationship between the Smek2 mutation and FAS dysfunction is still unclear. Here, we focused on carbohydrate metabolism, which provides substrates for FAS, and analyzed carbohydrate and lipid metabolisms in ExHC rats to clarify how the deficit of Smek2 causes DIHC. Male ExHC and SD rats were fed high-sucrose or high-starch diets containing 1% cholesterol for 2 weeks. Serum cholesterol levels of the ExHC rats were higher, regardless of the dietary carbohydrate. Hepatic triacylglycerol levels were higher in only the SD rats fed the high-sucrose diet. Moreover, the ExHC rats exhibited a diabetes-like status and accumulation of hepatic glycogen and low hepatic mRNA levels of liver-type phosphofructokinase (Pfkl), which encodes a rate-limiting enzyme for glycolysis. These results suggest that the glucose utilization, particularly glycolysis, is impaired in the liver of ExHC rats. To evaluate how the diet with extremely low glucose affect to DIHC, ExHC.BN-Dihc2BN, a congenic strain that does not develop DIHC, and ExHC rats were fed a high-fructose diet containing 1% cholesterol for 2 weeks. The serum cholesterol and hepatic triacylglycerol levels were similar in the strains. Results of water-soluble metabolite analysis with primary hepatocytes, an increase in fructose-6-phosphate and decreases in succinate, malate and aspartate in ExHC rats, support impaired glycolysis in the ExHC rats. Thus, the Smek2 mutation causes abnormal hepatic glucose utilization via downregulation of Pfkl expression. This abnormal glucose metabolism disrupts hepatic fatty acid synthesis and causes DIHC in the ExHC rats.
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