Lipoproteins and their receptors in the central nervous system

Author(s): Pitas RE, Boyles JK, Lee SH, Hui D, Weisgraber KH


This study was undertaken to determine if apolipoprotein (apo) E-containing lipoproteins and their receptors could provide a system for lipid transport and cholesterol homeostasis in the brain, as they do in other tissues. To accomplish this goal, the lipoproteins in human and canine cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) were characterized, and rat brain and monkey brain were examined for the presence of apoB,E(LDL) receptors. Apolipoprotein E and apoA-I were present in human and canine CSF, but apoB could not be detected. Apo-lipoprotein E and apoA-I were both present on lipoproteins with a density of approximately 1.09 to 1.15 g/ml. In human CSF, the lipoproteins were primarily spherical (approximately 140 A), whereas in canine CSF the lipoproteins were a mixture of discs (200 x 65 A) and spheres (approximately 130 A). Apolipoproteins E and A-I were contained primarily in separate populations of lipoproteins. Although the apoE of CSF was more highly sialylated than plasma apoE, the apoE-containing lipoproteins in canine CSF competed as effectively as canine plasma apoE HDLc for binding of 125I-LDL to the apoB,E(LDL) receptors on human fibroblasts. The presence of apoB,E(LDL) receptors in both rat and monkey brain was demonstrated by immunocytochemistry. Astrocytes abutting on the arachnoid space and pial cells of the arachnoid itself, both of which contact CSF, expressed apoB,E(LDL) receptors. Relatively few receptors were present in the cells of the gray matter of the cortex. Receptors were more prominent on the astrocytes of white matter and in the cells of the brain stem. The expression of apoB,E(LDL) receptors by brain cells and the presence of apoE- and apoA-I-containing lipoproteins in CSF suggest that the central nervous system has a mechanism for lipid transport and cholesterol homeostasis similar to that of other tissues.

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