Phenotype-dependent Differences in Apolipoprotein E Metabolism and in Cholesterol Homeostasis in Human Monocyte-derived Macrophages

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In this study, we investigated the impact of the common apoE polymorphism on apoE metabolism and cholesterol homeostasis in monocyte-derived macrophages isolated from E2/2, E3/3, and E4/4 subjects. Unloaded cells of all genotypes contained similar amounts of free cholesterol, cholesteryl ester, and apoE mRNA. E3/3 cells secreted 77 and 30% more apoE than E2/2 or E4/4 cells, respectively. Pulse-chase studies confirmed that the apoE secretion rate was greatest in E3/3 and least in E2/2 cells and showed that a portion of apoE2, but not apoE3 or apoE4, was degraded intracellularly. Surface binding of apoE was greatest in E4/4 cells, as revealed by heparinase treatment. On cholesterol loading with acetylated LDL, apoE mRNA levels and protein secretion rose most in E4/4 and least in E2/2 cells. Cholesterol and cholesteryl ester content, however, rose most in E2/2 and least in E3/3 cells. Incubations with3 H-cholesterol-labeled acetylated LDL revealed that E2/2 cells were most efficient at secreting cholesterol. The greatest reuptake of3 H-cholesterol-rich particles was from E4/4 macrophage-conditioned media. Thus, E2/2 macrophages, despite a low apoE secretion rate, are protected from cholesterol storage by apoE-mediated cholesterol efflux. In E3/3 macrophages, cholesterol accumulation is lessened by a high basal apoE secretion rate. E4/4 macrophages secrete the most apoE but lack effective net cholesterol efflux due to enhanced surface binding and reuptake of cholesterol-rich particles. (J. Clin. Invest. 1998. 101:1670-1677.)

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