Apolipoprotein E: cholesterol transport protein with expanding role in cell biology

Science. 1988 Apr 29;240(4852):622-30. doi: 10.1126/science.3283935.


Apolipoprotein E is a plasma protein that serves as a ligand for low density lipoprotein receptors and, through its interaction with these receptors, participates in the transport of cholesterol and other lipids among various cells of the body. A mutant form of apolipoprotein E that is defective in binding to low density lipoprotein receptors is associated with familial type III hyperlipoproteinemia, a genetic disorder characterized by elevated plasma cholesterol levels and accelerated coronary artery disease. Apolipoprotein E is synthesized in various organs, including liver, brain, spleen, and kidney, and is present in high concentrations in interstitial fluid, where it appears to participate in cholesterol redistribution from cells with excess cholesterol to those requiring cholesterol. Apolipo-protein E also appears to be involved in the repair response to tissue injury; for example, markedly increased amounts of apolipoprotein E are found at sites of peripheral nerve injury and regeneration. Other functions of apolipoprotein E, unrelated to lipid transport, are becoming known, including immunoregulation and modulation of cell growth and differentiation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Apolipoproteins E / genetics
  • Apolipoproteins E / physiology*
  • Biological Transport
  • Cholesterol / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia Type III / genetics
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia Type III / metabolism
  • Immunity
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Protein Conformation
  • Receptors, LDL / metabolism


  • Apolipoproteins E
  • Receptors, LDL
  • Cholesterol