Bioactive TGF-beta can associate with lipoproteins and is enriched in those containing apolipoprotein E3

J Neurochem. 2009 Aug;110(4):1254-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.06222.x. Epub 2009 Jun 15.


Transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-beta1) has central functions in development, tissue maintenance, and repair and has been implicated in major diseases. We discovered that TGF-beta1 contains several amphipathic helices and hydrophobic domains similar to apolipoprotein E (apoE), a protein involved in lipoprotein metabolism. Indeed, TGF-beta1 associates with lipoproteins isolated from human plasma, cultured liver cells, or astrocytes, and its bioactivity was highest in high-density lipoprotein preparations. Importantly, lipoproteins containing the apoE3 isoform had higher TGF-beta levels and bioactivity than those containing apoE4, a major genetic risk factor for atherosclerosis and Alzheimer's disease. Because TGF-beta1 can be protective in these diseases an association with apoE3 may be beneficial. Association of TGF-beta with different types of lipoproteins may facilitate its diffusion, regulate signaling, and offer additional specificity for this important growth factor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apolipoprotein E3 / genetics
  • Apolipoprotein E3 / metabolism*
  • Apolipoprotein E4 / metabolism
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism / physiology
  • Lipoproteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Secondary / physiology
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / chemistry
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / genetics
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / metabolism*


  • Apolipoprotein E3
  • Apolipoprotein E4
  • Lipoproteins
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1