Structure of low density lipoprotein (LDL) particles: basis for understanding molecular changes in modified LDL

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2000 Nov 15;1488(3):189-210. doi: 10.1016/s1388-1981(00)00123-2.


Low density lipoprotein (LDL) particles are the major cholesterol carriers in circulation and their physiological function is to carry cholesterol to the cells. In the process of atherogenesis these particles are modified and they accumulate in the arterial wall. Although the composition and overall structure of the LDL particles is well known, the fundamental molecular interactions and their impact on the structure of LDL particles are not well understood. Here, the existing pieces of structural information on LDL particles are combined with computer models of the individual molecular components to give a detailed structural model and visualization of the particles. Strong evidence is presented in favor of interactions between LDL lipid constituents that lead to specific domain formation in the particles. A new three-layer model, which divides the LDL particle into outer surface, interfacial layer, and core, and which is capable of explaining some seemingly contradictory interpretations of molecular interactions in LDL particles, is also presented. A new molecular interaction model for the beta-sheet structure and phosphatidylcholine headgroups is introduced and an overall view of the tertiary structure of apolipoprotein B-100 in the LDL particles is presented. This structural information is also utilized to understand and explain the molecular characteristics and interactions of modified, atherogenic LDL particles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apolipoprotein B-100
  • Apolipoproteins B / chemistry
  • Cholesterol / chemistry
  • Endopeptidases
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / chemistry*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Models, Molecular
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Particle Size
  • Phospholipases A
  • Phospholipids / chemistry
  • Protein Conformation*
  • Specific Gravity
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • Sterol Esterase
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Surface Properties
  • Temperature
  • Type C Phospholipases
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Apolipoprotein B-100
  • Apolipoproteins B
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Phospholipids
  • Cholesterol
  • Sterol Esterase
  • Phospholipases A
  • Type C Phospholipases
  • Endopeptidases