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ATP-binding cassette protein A1 (ABCA1) plays a key role in generating high-density lipoprotein (HDL). However, the detailed mechanism of HDL formation remains unclear; in order to reveal it, chemicals that specifically block each step of HDL formation would be useful. Cyclosporine A inhibits ABCA1-mediated cholesterol efflux, but it is not clear whether this is mediated via inhibition of calcineurin. We analyzed the effects of cyclosporine A and related compounds on ABCA1 function in BHK/ABCA1 cells. Cyclosporine A, FK506, and pimecrolimus inhibited ABCA1-mediated cholesterol efflux in a concentration-dependent manner, with IC(50) of 7.6, 13.6, and 7.0μM, respectively. An mTOR inhibitor, rapamycin also inhibited ABCA1, with IC(50) of 18.8μM. The primary targets for these drugs were inhibited at much lower concentrations in BHK/ABCA1 cells, suggesting that they were not involved. Binding of [(3)H] cyclosporine A to purified ABCA1 could be clearly detected. Furthermore, a non-immunosuppressive cyclosporine, PSC833, inhibited ABCA1-mediated cholesterol efflux with IC(50) of 1.9μM, and efficiently competed with [(3)H] cyclosporine A binding to ABCA1. These results indicate that cyclosporine A and PSC833 inhibit ABCA1 via direct binding, and that the ABCA1 inhibitor PSC833 is an excellent candidate for further investigations of the detailed mechanisms underlying formation of HDL. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Kohjiro Nagao, Minami Maeda, Noralyn B Mañucat, Kazumitsu Ueda. Cyclosporine A and PSC833 inhibit ABCA1 function via direct binding. Biochimica et biophysica acta. 2013 Feb;1831(2):398-406

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PMID: 23153588

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