Published online Dec 21, 2010. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v16.i47.5953
Revised: July 28, 2010
Accepted: August 5, 2010
Published online: December 21, 2010
The reverse cholesterol transport pathway (RCT) is the focus of many cholesterol-lowering therapies. By way of this pathway, excess cholesterol is collected from peripheral tissues and delivered back to the liver and gastrointestinal tract for excretion from the body. For a long time this removal via the hepatobiliary secretion was considered to be the sole route involved in the RCT. However, observations from early studies in animals and humans already pointed towards the possibility of another route. In the last few years it has become evident that a non-biliary cholesterol secretion pathway exists in which the intestine plays a central role. This transintestinal cholesterol efflux (TICE) pathway contributes significantly to the total fecal neutral sterol excretion. Moreover, recent studies have shown that TICE is also sensitive to stimulation. As a consequence, the direct role of cholesterol secretion from blood via TICE makes the intestine a suitable and approachable target for cholesterol removal from the body and possibly reduction of atherosclerosis. In this review, the discovery and recent findings contributing to understanding the mechanism of TICE will be discussed.