Lipid Metabolism and Glial Lipoproteins in the Central Nervous System

Biol Pharm Bull. 2011;34(4):453-61. doi: 10.1248/bpb.34.453.


Lipoproteins in the central nervous system (CNS) are not incorporated from the blood but are formed mainly by glial cells within the CNS. In addition, cholesterol in the CNS is synthesized endogenously because the blood-brain barrier segregates the CNS from the peripheral circulation. Apolipoprotein (apo) E is a major apo in the CNS. In normal condition, apo E is secreted from glia, mainly from astrocytes, and forms cholesterol-rich lipoproteins by ATP-binding cassette transporters. Subsequently, apo E-containing glial lipoproteins supply cholesterol and other components to neurons via a receptor-mediated process. Recent findings demonstrated that receptors of the low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor family not only internalize lipoproteins into the cells but also, like signaling receptors, transduce signals upon binding the ligands. In this review, the regulation of lipid homeostasis will be discussed as well as roles of lipoproteins and functions of receptors of LDL receptor family in the CNS. Furthermore, the relation between lipid metabolism and Alzheimer's disease (AD) is discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Apolipoproteins E / metabolism*
  • Central Nervous System / cytology
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Neuroglia / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Receptors, LDL / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Apolipoproteins E
  • Receptors, LDL
  • Cholesterol