Although cellular uptake of vitamin E was initially described as a passive process, recent studies in the liver and brain have shown that SR-BI is involved in this phenomenon. As SR-BI is expressed at high levels in the intestine, the present study addressed the involvement of SR-BI in vitamin E trafficking across enterocytes. Apical uptake and efflux of the main dietary forms of vitamin E was examined using Caco-2 TC-7 cell monolayers as a model of human intestinal epithelium. RRR-γ-tocopherol bioavailability was compared between wild-type mice and mice overexpressing SR-BI in the intestine. The effect of vitamin E on enterocyte SR-BI mRNA levels was measured by real-time quantitative RT-PCR. Concentration-dependent curves for vitamin E uptake were similar for RRR-α-, RRR-γ- and DL-α-tocopherol. RRR-α-tocopherol transport was dependent on incubation temperature, with a 60% reduction in absorption at 4°C compared to 37°C (p<0.05). Vitamin E flux in enterocytes was directed from the apical to the basal side, with a relative 10-fold reduction in the transfer process when measured in the opposite direction (p<0.05). Co-incubation with cholesterol, γ-tocopherol or lutein significantly impaired α-tocopherol absorption. Anti-human SR-BI antibodies and BLT1 (a chemical inhibitor of lipid transport via SR-BI) blocked up to 80% of vitamin E uptake and up to 30 % of apical vitamin E efflux (p<0.05), and similar results were obtained for RRR-γ-tocopherol. SR-BI mRNA levels were not significantly modified after a 24-hour incubation of Caco-2 cells with vitamin E. Finally, RRR-γ-tocopherol bioavailability was 2.7-fold higher in mice overexpressing SR-BI than in wild-type mice (p<0.05). The present data show for the first time that vitamin E intestinal absorption is, at least partly, mediated by SR-BI.
Keywords: Absorption, Animals, Antigens, CD36, metabolism, physiology, Binding, Competitive, Biological Transport, Caco-2 Cells, Cell Differentiation, Cholesterol, metabolism, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Enterocytes, metabolism, Epithelial Cells, metabolism, Humans, Intestines, metabolism, Lipids, chemistry, Mice, Mice, Transgenic, Micelles, RNA, Messenger, metabolism, Temperature, Time Factors, Tocopherols, metabolism, Vitamin E, metabolism, alpha-Tocopherol, metabolism, gamma-Tocopherol, metabolism