3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase activity and the rate of sterol biosynthesis are positively correlated with DNA synthesis and proliferation of mammalian cells. The total (active plus latent) activity of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase and the activity of its active form in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) from seven patients were measured and compared with those in liver tissue from five control subjects. The activity of the active form in HCC was 61 ± 21 (SD) pmol/min/mg microsomal protein, while it was only 17 ± 9.8 pmol/min/mg protein in the liver tissue from the controls; the difference was significant (P < 0.005). The total activity of the reductase was also higher in HCC although the difference was not significant. The microsomal contents of the enzyme protein also were not significantly different. The rate of cholesterol biosynthesis was 307 ± 81 pmol/h/mg tissue in HCC and 79.6 ± 52 in normal liver tissue, indicating a significant increase in the rate in HCC (P < 0.001). Thus, enhanced synthesis of cholesterol in human HCC seems to result partly from an increase in the active form of the reductase.

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