Karin M Thelen

University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Uusimaa, Finland

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Publications (27)

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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cholesterol is a prominent modulator of the integrity and functional activity of physiological membranes and the most abundant sterol in the mammalian brain. DHCR24-knock-out mice lack cholesterol and accumulate desmosterol with age. Here we demonstrate that brain cholesterol deficiency in 3-week-old DHCR24−/− mice was associated with altered membrane composition including disrupted detergent-resistant membrane domain (DRM) structure. Furthermore, membrane-related functions differed extensively in the brains of these mice, resulting in lower plasmin activity, decreased β-secretase activity and diminished Aβ generation. Age-dependent accumulation and integration of desmosterol in brain membranes of 16-week-old DHCR24−/− mice led to the formation of desmosterol-containing DRMs and rescued the observed membrane-related functional deficits. Our data provide evidence that an alternate sterol, desmosterol, can facilitate processes that are normally cholesterol-dependent including formation of DRMs from mouse brain extracts, membrane receptor ligand binding and activation, and regulation of membrane protein proteolytic activity. These data indicate that desmosterol can replace cholesterol in membrane-related functions in the DHCR24−/− mouse. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11064-008-9893-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
    Full-text Article · Aug 2009 · Neurochemical Research
  • Paula J Jansen · Dieter Lütjohann · Karin M Thelen · [...] · Monique Monique
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Apolipoprotein E (apoE) is a regulator of peripheral cholesterol homeostasis, and the apoE-isoform E4 is a major risk factor for the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Accumulating evidence suggests a key role for aberrant cholesterol metabolism in AD. We hypothesized that apoE-deficiency in mice not only affects cholesterol homeostasis in the periphery, but also in the brain, and that this can be restored by astrocyte-specific expression of human apoE3, but not apoE4. Using gas-chromatography mass-spectrometry, we found that absence of apoE in mice does not affect brain cholesterol homeostasis although serum sterol levels increase dramatically, especially when the apoE-knockout mice are fed a high fat diet. We provide evidence suggesting that apoD and the ATP-binding Cassette Transporter A1 (ABCA1) play a compensatory role in the apoE-deficient brain. Surprisingly, astrocyte-specific expression of human apoE3 or apoE4 in brains of apoE-knockout mice significantly increases brain levels of cholesterol and its precursors compared to control mice, indicative of an increased cholesterol synthesis rate in the brain. This increase is independent of the apoE-isoform, suggesting that the detrimental effect of apoE4 on the pathogenesis of AD is unlikely to be due to an apoE-isoform effect on brain cholesterol homeostasis.
    Article · Aug 2009 · Journal of Alzheimer's disease: JAD
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Presenilins (PSs) are components of the gamma-secretase complex that mediates intramembranous cleavage of type I membrane proteins. We show that gamma-secretase is involved in the regulation of cellular lipoprotein uptake. Loss of gamma-secretase function decreased endocytosis of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor. The decreased uptake of lipoproteins led to upregulation of cellular cholesterol biosynthesis by increased expression of CYP51 and enhanced metabolism of lanosterol. Genetic deletion of PS1 or transgenic expression of PS1 mutants that cause early-onset Alzheimer's disease led to accumulation of gamma-secretase substrates and mistargeting of adaptor proteins that regulate endocytosis of the LDL receptor. Consistent with decreased endocytosis of these receptors, PS1 mutant mice have elevated levels of apolipoprotein E in the brain. Thus, these data demonstrate a functional link between two major genetic factors that cause early-onset and late-onset Alzheimer's disease.
    Article · Dec 2008 · The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
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    Full-text Article · Aug 2008 · Chemistry and Physics of Lipids
  • Jochen Walter · Karin Thelen · Dieter Lütjohann · [...] · Irfan Tamboli
    Article · Jul 2008 · Alzheimer's and Dementia
  • Article · May 2008 · Atherosclerosis Supplements
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sterol regulatory element-binding proteins (SREBPs) are transcription factors governing transcription of genes related to cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism. To become active, SREBPs must undergo a proteolytic cleavage to allow an active NH(2)-terminal segment to translocate into the nucleus. SKI-1/S1P is the first protease in the proteolytic activation cascade of SREBPs. SREBP inhibition may be useful, for example, in the treatment of liver steatosis caused by homocysteine-induced lipid synthesis. Accordingly, we overexpressed inhibitory prodomains (proSKI) of SKI-1/S1P in HepG2 cells to block SREBP activation to evaluate the potential of SKI-1/S1P in controlling cellular cholesterol synthesis. SKI-1/S1P inhibition resulted in reduced cholesterol synthesis and mRNA levels of the rate-limiting enzymes, HMG-CoA reductase and squalene epoxidase, in the cholesterol synthetic pathway. The inhibitory effect was maintained in the presence of homocysteine-induced endoplasmic reticulum stress. A gene set enrichment analysis was performed to elucidate other metabolic effects caused by SKI-1/S1P inhibition. SKI-1/S1P inhibition was observed to affect a number of other metabolic pathways, including glycolysis and citric acid cycle. These results demonstrate that inhibition of SREBPs decreases cholesterol synthesis in HepG2 cells both in the absence and presence of homocysteine. SKI-1/S1P inhibition may cause widespread changes in other key metabolic pathways.
    Article · Dec 2007 · DNA and Cell Biology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Niemann-pick type C (NPC) disease is characterized by endosomal and lysosomal accumulation of lipids, impaired tubulovesicular trafficking, and neurodegeneration leading to premature death. Current treatment options are limited to mainly symptomatic treatments. Thus, new and efficient drug targets are needed, and therefore we performed a Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) on NPC and healthy fibroblasts to identify globally affected pathways in NPC that could serve as targets for later drug discovery programs. Cell lines were characterized by analyzing cellular concentrations of cholesterol, its precursors and metabolites, as well as cellular plant sterol levels. Gene expression analyses were performed with Sentrix Human-8 Expression BeadChips, analyzing 23,000 transcripts. Pathway analysis of the expression data was performed using the GSEA method. Twenty-seven upregulated and 33 downregulated pathways emerged as globally affected in the GSEA analysis. These pathways included, for example, mitochondrial pathway, caspase cascade, as well as prostaglandin and leukotriene metabolism. Based on the present results and earlier published data, anti-inflammatory and antiapoptotic treatment could be beneficial in NPC.
    Article · Oct 2007 · DNA and Cell Biology
  • Oliver Wirths · Karin M Thelen · Dieter Lütjohann · [...] · Thomas A Bayer
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cholesterol has been implicated to play an important role in the generation of Abeta peptides, which are the main component of beta-amyloid plaques in the brains of patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease (AD). Epidemiological data implicate that lowering cholesterol levels has beneficial effects on the extent of beta-amyloid pathology. Thus therapeutic intervention using cholesterol lowering drugs like statins seems to be a promising approach. A couple of studies, in vitro or in vivo by the use of AD transgenic mouse models, focused on the manipulation of cholesterol levels and the resulting effects on Abeta generation. In contrast, there is not much known about the effect of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) on cholesterol levels. In the present report, we transfected human neuroblastoma cells with human APP695 and compared cellular cholesterol levels with the respective levels in Mock-transfected control cells. Furthermore, we determined the levels of diverse cholesterol precursors and metabolites using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Significant differences in the levels of the respective cholesterol precursors were observed, whereas inhibition of gamma-secretase activity by the gamma-secretase inhibitor DAPT did not have a significant effect on cellular cholesterol metabolism.
    Article · Jun 2007 · Brain Research
  • Mari Luomala · Hannu Päivä · Karin Thelen · [...] · Terho Lehtimaki
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Atherosclerotic lesions are characterized by an accumulation of inflammatory cells and lipids. Osteopontin (OPN) is a cell-binding phosphoprotein, and it seems to promote the development of atherosclerosis. The purpose of our study was to find out whether plasma levels of OPN are associated with cholesterol metabolites in plasma or tissues. Forty-three normal or mildly hypercholesterolaemic subjects, aged 31 to 69, were studied. The plasma level of OPN correlated negatively with muscle lathosterol (r = -0.52, P < 0.0001) and with the muscle lathosterol to muscle cholesterol ratio (r = -0.48, P = 0.001). Lathosterol concentrations in muscle (P = 0.003) and in relation to cholesterol (P = 0.005) were also significantly different among the OPN tertiles. OPN correlated negatively and significantly with muscle lathosterol in men (r = -0.58, P = 0.001, n = 29) but not in women (r = -0.21, P = 0.48, n = 14). Correspondingly, it also correlated negatively and significantly with the muscle lathosterol to muscle cholesterol ratio (r = -0.60, P = 0.001) in men but not in women (r = -0.13, P = 0.65). Plasma levels of OPN had a non-significant inverse correlation with plasma lathosterol and the plasma lathosterol to plasma cholesterol ratio. Plasma OPN concentrations were not related to plant sterols, cholesterol and 27-hydroxycholesterol. Tissue markers of cholesterol synthesis were related to plasma OPN, particularly in men. This suggests that there is interplay between OPN and cholesterol metabolism in human cells.
    Article · Apr 2007 · Acta cardiologica
  • P. Jansen · D. Lutjohann · K. Thelen · [...] · M. Mulder
    Conference Paper · Jan 2007
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: CD40 is a marker of immunological activation and is expressed in the atherosclerotic lesions. We studied whether CD40 and cholesterol synthesis pathways are associated with each other. Forty-three subjects were randomly assigned to receive either simvastatin (n = 14), atorvastatin (n = 15), or placebo (n = 14) for eight weeks. Plasma samples were obtained before and at the end of the follow-up. sCD40 levels were measured in duplicate using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Cholesterol, its precursor lathosterol, the plant sterols campesterol and sitosterol as well as 27-hydroxycholesterol were quantified by gas-liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. sCD40 was inversely correlated with the lathosterol to cholesterol ratio (r = - 0.47, p = 0.002), an indicator of cholesterol synthesis rate, as well as apolipoprotein A-I (r = - 0.38, p = 0.01) in addition to being directly correlated with 27-hydroxycholesterol (r = 0.40, p = 0.008). In multivariate linear regression analysis these three predictors explained 37% of the total variability of sCD40 levels. Simvastatin or atorvastatin treatment had no significant effect on sCD40 levels. These results indirectly suggest that sCD40 concentrations are related to cellular cholesterol levels. This may be a novel indication for the relationship between immunological processes and cholesterol metabolism.
    Article · Nov 2006 · Scandinavian Cardiovascular Journal
  • Simon Wing Fai Mok · Karin M Thelen · Constanze Riemer · [...] · Michael Baier
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prion diseases are fatal and at present there are neither cures nor palliative therapies known/available, which delay disease onset or progression. Cholesterol-lowering drugs have been reported to inhibit prion replication in infected cell cultures and to modulate inflammatory reactions. We aimed to determine whether simvastatin-treatment could delay disease onset in a murine prion model. Groups of mice were intracerebrally infected with two doses of scrapie strain 139A. Simvastatin-treatment commenced 100 days postinfection. The treatment did not affect deposition of misfolded prion protein PrP(res). However, expression of marker proteins for glia activation like major histocompatibility class II and galectin-3 was found to be affected. Analysis of brain cholesterol synthesis and metabolism revealed a mild reduction in cholesterol precursor levels, whereas levels of cholesterol and cholesterol metabolites were unchanged. Simvastatin-treatment significantly delayed disease progression and prolonged survival times in established prion infection of the CNS (p < or = 0.0003). The results suggest that modulation of glial responses and the therapeutic benefit observed in our murine prion model of simvastatin is not due to the cholesterol-lowering effect of this drug.
    Article · Oct 2006 · Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
  • Karin M Thelen · Reijo Laaksonen · Hannu Päivä · [...] · Dieter Lütjohann
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Statins inhibit endogenous cholesterol synthesis, up-regulate low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor expression in mammalian liver cells, and thus decrease circulating LDL-cholesterol concentrations. As cholesterol seems to play a role in the development of neurodegenerative diseases, it is of interest to evaluate the effect of high dosages of statins (eg, atorvastatin or simvastatin) on brain cholesterol metabolism. Plasma samples from 44 participants (aged 30-69 years, 16 men and 18 women) of an earlier randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial, who took 40 mg atorvastatin or 80 mg simvastatin daily for 2 months, were used to analyze total cholesterol, its precursor lathosterol, and its metabolites 24(S)-hydroxycholesterol and 27-hydroxycholesterol. Despite a significant decrease in absolute plasma concentrations of oxysterols, total cholesterol, and its endogenous synthesis rate, indicated by a decreased ratio of lathosterol to cholesterol, the plasma 24(S)-hydroxycholesterol to cholesterol ratio, a surrogate marker of brain cholesterol homeostasis, remained unchanged. Short-term high-dose atorvastatin and simvastatin treatment does not seem to influence brain cholesterol metabolism in patients with moderately elevated plasma cholesterol levels.
    Article · Aug 2006 · The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
  • K.M. Thelen · P Falkai · T.A. Bayer · D Lütjohann
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During the last three to four decades, interest in the interaction of circulating and brain cholesterol has increased. As the CNS matures and cholesterol pools in the brain become constant, the rate of de novo synthesis of cholesterol in the brain is expected to decline. We measured cholesterol, its precursors and its brain specific metabolite 24S-hydroxycholesterol in hippocampus from 7 female and 13 male corpses by highly sensitive and specific gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Two age groups (young, n=10; elderly, n=10) were formed with a cut-off at the median age of 38 years. The amount of cholesterol was comparable in young and elderly subjects. The concentrations of the cholesterol precursors lanosterol and lathosterol were significantly higher in young (P=0.036 and 0.005, respectively) than in elderly subjects. In accordance, there was a significantly negative correlation between age and lathosterol concentrations (r=-0.505; P=0.023). Absolute levels of 24S-hydroxycholesterol in the brain were slightly, but not significantly, lower in the hippocampal specimens from the elderly subjects. We conclude that during aging, cholesterol synthesis is decreased in the hippocampus, while absolute cholesterol content remains at a stable level.
    Article · Aug 2006 · Neuroscience Letters
  • Article: O3-03-05
    Jochen Walter · Karin Thelen · Dieter Lütjohann · [...] · Irfan Y. Tamboli
    Article · Jul 2006
  • K. M. Thelen · K. M. Rentsch · U. Gutteck · [...] · D. Lütjohann
    Article · Jun 2006 · Atherosclerosis Supplements
  • Karin M Thelen · Katharina M Rentsch · Ursula Gutteck · [...] · Dieter Lütjohann
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: On a global scale, there is an increasing tendency for a more aggressive treatment of hypercholesterolemia. Minor effects of statins on brain cholesterol metabolism have been reported in some in vivo animal studies, and it seems that this is due to a local effect of the drug. We treated male mice of the inbred strain C57/BL6 with a high daily dose of lipophilic simvastatin (100 mg/kg b.wt.) or hydrophilic pravastatin (200 mg/kg b.wt.) or vehicle (controls) by oral gavage for 3 days. To compare the impact of both statins on brain cholesterol synthesis and degradation, levels of cholesterol, its precursor lathosterol, and its brain metabolite 24(S)-hydroxycholesterol as well as statin concentrations were determined in whole-brain lipid extracts using mass spectrometry. The expression of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl (HMG)-coenzyme A (CoA) reductase mRNA and of other target genes were evaluated using real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. In addition, analysis of liver and serum samples was performed. Similar levels of simvastatin and pravastatin were detected in whole-brain homogenates. Cholesterol contents in the brain, liver, and serum were not affected by high-dose statin treatment. Whereas brain cholesterol precursor levels were reduced in simvastatin-treated animals only, no effect was observed on the formation of the brain cholesterol metabolite, 24(S)-hydroxycholesterol. Polymerase chain reaction analysis revealed that mRNA expression of HMG-CoA reductase and ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 in the brain was significantly up-regulated in simvastatin-treated animals compared with pravastatin-treated or control animals. We conclude that, under the present experimental conditions, brain cholesterol synthesis is significantly affected by short-term treatment with high doses of lipophilic simvastatin, whereas whole-brain cholesterol turnover is not disturbed.
    Article · Apr 2006 · Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
  • Reijo Laaksonen · Karin M Thelen · Hannu Päivä · [...] · Terho Lehtimäki
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sterol regulatory element binding proteins-1 and -2 (SREBPs) are transcription factors controlling lipid homeostasis in human cells. The G-allele carriers of the SREBF-1 gene C-G polymorphism in exon 18c and coding for glycine at the protein level (G952G) have shown to associate more frequently with obesity and type 2 diabetes than the C-allele carriers. However, the C-allele has suggested to be linked to dyslipidemia. Thus, our aim was to study effect of the SREBF-1 gene polymorphism (G952G) on sterol metabolism in man. Ninety-five subjects with moderate hypercholesterolemia participated in this study and 14 homozygous CC carriers of the SREBF-1 (G952G) gene were found. Plasma lathosterol concentration and lathosterol-to-cholesterol ratio, markers of endogenous cholesterol synthesis, were significantly higher in CC homozygous subject compared to others. Similarly muscle cholesterol (p=0.045) and lathosterol (p=0.054) concentrations were elevated in the CC homozygotes supporting the view that endogenous cholesterol synthesis rate is SREBF-1 genotype-dependent.
    Article · Apr 2006 · Atherosclerosis
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    Oliver Wirths · Karin Thelen · Henning Breyhan · [...] · Thomas A Bayer
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A large number of studies deals with the association of cholesterol and Abeta levels, however, the results are so far controversial. Whereas some studies report on increased cholesterol levels, other authors refer to an association of decreased peripheral cholesterol and the incidence of Alzheimer's disease. It is also questionable whether plasma cholesterol levels could be used as a predictive biomarker for the incidence of Alzheimer's disease. In the present report, we studied the relationship between these two parameters during aging in different transgenic mouse models of Alzheimer's disease, expressing both mutant human amyloid precursor protein and mutant human presenilin-1. Measurements of plasma cholesterol levels revealed a significant reduction in aged APP/PS1 and APP/PS1ki mice, whereas plasma levels in young and aged control mice remained almost unchanged. Furthermore, statistical analysis revealed a significant negative correlation between plasma cholesterol and brain Abeta42 levels during aging in the mice expressing both APP and PS1.
    Full-text Article · Mar 2006 · Experimental Gerontology