In Manduca sexta larvae, radioactive free cholesterol is absorbed directly from the midgut into mucosal cells where it is stored both in the free form (87% in males and 93% in females) and esterified form (13% in males and 7% in females). Subsequently, cholesterol is transported to fat body via lipophorin in the hemolymph exclusively in the free form. In fat body, the distribution of cholesterol between the free and esterified form varied significantly between genders and developmental stages. Except for the larval stage, males and females were able to store cholesterol in both free and esterified forms in the fat body and in the adult stage cholesterol ester accounted for more than 75% of the stored cholesterol. Placement of radioactive cholesterol at different locations in the gut-foregut, midgut, and hindgut-demonstrated that the midgut is the site where cholesterol is absorbed and released into the hemolymph. Cholesterol-labeled lipophorin injected into larval hemolymph was cleared from the hemolymph with a half-life of 10.2 h. After 17 h, most of the cleared radioactivity was recovered in the fat body (38%). Arch.
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