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1.  Human Apolipoprotein E Resequencing by Proteomic Analysis and Its Application to Serotyping 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85356.
Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) typing is considered important because of the association between ApoE and Alzheimer’s disease and familial dyslipidemia and is currently performed by genetic testing (APOE genotyping). ApoE levels in plasma and serum are clinically determined by immunoassay.
Combining an ApoE immunoassay reagent with proteomic analysis using an Orbitrap mass spectrometer, we attempted to resequence ApoE from trace amounts of serum for typing (serotyping). Most (24 of 33) ApoE mutant proteins registered to date with Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man, such as ApoE2 and ApoE4, involve lysine and arginine mutations. Digestion of mutant ApoE with trypsin will thus result in fragments that differ substantially from wild-type ApoE3 in terms of mass, making serotyping ideally suited to mass spectrometry analysis.
The mean coverage of the amino acid sequence of full-length ApoE was 91.6% in the protein resequence. Residues 112 and 158 (which are mutated in ApoE2 and ApoE4) were covered in all samples, and the protein sequences were used for serotyping. Serotypes including all heterozygous combinations (ApoE2/E3, E2/E4, E3/E4) corresponded exactly to the APOE genotyping results in each of the subjects.
Our novel ApoE serotyping method with protein resequencing requires no synthesis of stable isotope-labeled peptides or genome analysis. The method can use residual blood from samples collected for routine clinical tests, thus enabling retrospective studies with preserved body fluids. The test could be applied to samples from subjects whose DNA is unavailable. In future studies, we hope to demonstrate the capability of our method to detect rare ApoE mutations.
PMCID: PMC3891820  PMID: 24454848
2.  Sequence polymorphisms in the apolipoprotein (a) gene. Evidence for dissociation between apolipoprotein(a) size and plasma lipoprotein(a) levels. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1993;91(4):1630-1636.
Apolipoprotein(a) [apo(a)], an apolipoprotein unique to lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)], is highly polymorphic in size. Previous studies have indicated that the size of the apo(a) gene tends to be inversely correlated with the plasma level of Lp(a). However, several exceptions to this general trend have been identified. Individuals with apo(a) alleles of identical size do not always have similar plasma concentrations of Lp(a). To determine if these differences in plasma Lp(a) concentrations were due to sequence variations in the apo(a) gene, we examined the sequences of apo(a) alleles in 23 individuals homozygous for same-sized apo(a) alleles. We identified four single-strand DNA conformation polymorphisms (SSCPs) in the apo(a) gene. Of the 23 homozygotes, 21 (91%) were heterozygous for at least one of the SSCPs. Analysis of a family in which a parent was homozygous for the same-sized apo(a) allele revealed that each allele, though identical size, segregated with different plasma concentrations of Lp(a). These studies indicate that the apo(a) gene is even more polymorphic in sequence than was previously appreciated, and that sequence variations at the apo(a) locus, other than the number of kringle 4 repeats, contribute to the plasma concentration of Lp(a).
PMCID: PMC288140  PMID: 8473506
3.  Parental history of Alzheimer disease associated with lower plasma apolipoprotein E levels 
Neurology  2009;73(9):681-687.
Variation in APOE genotype is a determinant of Alzheimer disease (AD), but the risk associated with variation in plasma apoE levels has yet to be determined. Here, we studied offspring with and without a parental history of AD to identify the effect of plasma apoE levels at middle age on the risk of late-onset AD.
Some 203 offspring from 92 families with a parental history of AD were compared with 197 offspring from 97 families without a parental history of AD. APOE genotypes and plasma apoE levels were assessed in all offspring. Difference in plasma apoE level between subjects with and without a parental history of AD was calculated using robust linear regression, both stratified and adjusted for APOE genotype.
Offspring with a parental history of AD were more likely to be an APOE ɛ4 allele carrier (46% vs 21%, p < 0.001) than offspring without such a parental history. Mean plasma apoE levels strongly decreased from ɛ2 to ɛ3ɛ3 to ɛ4 carriers (p < 0.001). Offspring with a parental history of AD had lower plasma apoE levels than subjects without such a history, both in analyses adjusted for APOE genotype (difference: −0.21 mg/dL, p = 0.02) and when using standardized Z scores, when stratified for APOE genotype (difference: −0.22, p = 0.009).
Our findings suggest that lower plasma apoE levels in middle age could be a risk factor for Alzheimer disease in old age, independent of APOE genotype.
= Alzheimer disease;
= body mass index;
= confidence interval;
= cardiovascular disease;
= early-onset Alzheimer disease;
= high-density lipoprotein;
= low-density lipoprotein;
= late-onset Alzheimer disease;
= Mini-Mental State Examination;
= vascular dementia.
PMCID: PMC2734293  PMID: 19720974
4.  ApoE and TDP-43 neuropathology in two siblings with familial FTLD-motor neuron disease 
Neurocase  2012;19(3):295-301.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration with motor neuron disease (FTLD-MND) is characterized by neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions containing TDP-43. Apolipoprotein E4 (apoE4), derived from the apoE ε4 allele, enhances brain atrophy in FTLD through unknown mechanisms. Here, we studied two siblings with C9ORF72-linked familial FTLD-MND, an apoE ε4 homozygote and an apoE ε3 homozygote. The apoE ε4 homozygote had more cognitive-behavioral symptoms, fronto-insulo-temporal atrophy, and apoE fragments and aggregates in the anterior cingulate cortex. ApoE formed complexes with TDP-43 that were more abundant in the apoE ε4 homozygote. Although differences seen in a sibling pair could arise due to chance, these findings raise the possibility that apoE4 exacerbates brain pathology in FTLD through formation of neurotoxic apoE fragments and interactions with TDP-43.
PMCID: PMC3655113  PMID: 22512241
Apolipoprotein E; TDP-43; Frontotemporal dementia; Motor neuron disease; Neuropathology
5.  Genetic analysis of a kindred with familial hypobetalipoproteinemia. Evidence for two separate gene defects: one associated with an abnormal apolipoprotein B species, apolipoprotein B-37; and a second associated with low plasma concentrations of apolipoprotein B-100. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1987;79(6):1842-1851.
In 1979 Steinberg and colleagues recognized a unique kindred with normotriglyceridemic hypobetalipoproteinemia (1979. J. Clin. Invest. 64:292-301). We have undertaken an intensive reexamination of this kindred and have studied 41 family members in three generations. In this family we document the presence of two distinct apo B alleles associated with low plasma concentrations of apolipoprotein (apo) B and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and we trace the inheritance of these two alleles over three generations. One of the alleles resulted in the production of an abnormal, truncated apo B species, apo B-37. The other apo B allele was associated with reduced plasma concentrations of the normal apo B species, apo B-100. H.J.B., the proband, and two of his siblings had both abnormal apo B alleles and were therefore compound heterozygotes for familial hypobetalipoproteinemia. Their average LDL-cholesterol level was 6 +/- 9 mg/dl. All of the offspring of the three compound heterozygotes had hypobetalipoproteinemia, and each had evidence of only one of the abnormal apo B alleles. In the entire kindred, we identified six heterozygotes for familial hypobetalipoproteinemia who had only the abnormal apo B-37 allele and their average LDL cholesterol was 31 +/- 12 mg/dl. We identified 10 heterozygotes who had only the allele for reduced plasma concentrations of apo B-100 and their LDL cholesterol level was 31 +/- 15 mg/dl. Unaffected family members (n = 22) had LDL cholesterol levels of 110 +/- 27 mg/dl. This report describes the first kindred in which two distinct abnormal apo B alleles have been identified, both of which are associated with familial hypobetalipoproteinemia.
PMCID: PMC424528  PMID: 3473077
6.  Familial dysbetalipoproteinemia associated with apolipoprotein E3-Leiden in an extended multigeneration pedigree. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1991;88(2):643-655.
By the careful screening of familial dysbetalipoproteinemic (FD) patients, five probands showing heterozygosity for the APOE*3-Leiden allele were found. Genealogical studies revealed that these probands share common ancestry in the 17th century. In a group of 128 family members, spanning three generations, 37 additional heterozygous APOE*3-Leiden gene carriers were detected. Although with a variable degree of severity, all carriers exhibited characteristics of FD such as (a) elevated levels of cholesterol in the very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) and intermediate density lipoprotein (IDL) fractions, (b) elevated ratios of cholesterol levels in these density fractions over total plasma levels of triglycerides, and (c) strongly increased plasma levels of apolipoprotein E (apoE). Multiple linear regression analysis revealed that most of the variability in expression of FD in APOE*3-Leiden allele carriers can be explained by age. Body mass index showed a less significant influence on the expression of FD. Gender had no effect on the expression in E*3-Leiden allele carriers, nor did it influence the age of onset of FD. In the group of APOE*3-Leiden allele carriers, we found that the E*2 allele enhances the expression of FD, whereas the E*4 allele had the opposite effect. Isoelectric focusing of plasma and of isolated VLDL, IDL, and high density lipoprotein density fractions showed that in E*3-Leiden allele carriers the apoE3-Leiden variant largely predominates over its normal apoE counterpart, especially in the VLDL and IDL density fractions. We conclude that in APOE*3-Leiden allele carriers FD is dominantly inherited with a high rate of penetrance, i.e., the presence of normally functioning apoE molecules in the plasma does not prevent the age-related expression of this disease.
PMCID: PMC295406  PMID: 1864973
7.  A truncated species of apolipoprotein B (B67) in a kindred with familial hypobetalipoproteinemia. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1991;87(5):1748-1754.
We describe a kindred in which the proband and 6 of his 12 children have hypobetalipoproteinemia. The plasma lipoproteins of the affected subjects contained a unique species of apolipoprotein (apo) B, apo B67, in addition to the normal species, apo B100 and apo B48. The size of apo B67 and immunochemical studies with a panel of apo B-specific antibodies indicated that apo B67 was a truncated species of apo B that contained approximately the amino-terminal 3,000-3,100 amino acids of apo B100. Sequencing of genomic apo B clones revealed that affected family members were heterozygous for a mutant apo B allele containing a single nucleotide deletion in exon 26 (cDNA nucleotide 9327). This frameshift mutation is predicted to result in the synthesis of a truncated apo B containing 3,040 amino acids. Apo B67 is present in low levels in the plasma but is easily detectable within the very low density lipoprotein and low density lipoprotein fractions. Examination of the proband's immediate family revealed seven normolipidemic subjects and seven subjects with hypobetalipoproteinemia. In the affected subjects, the mean total and low density lipoprotein cholesterol levels were 120 and 42 mg/dl, respectively. A significantly higher mean high density lipoprotein cholesterol level was found in the affected subjects (75 vs. 55 mg/dl). We hypothesize that the elevated high density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in subjects heterozygous for the apo B67 mutation may be metabolically linked to the low levels of apo B-containing lipoproteins in their plasma.
PMCID: PMC295283  PMID: 2022744
Genetic familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) and combined hyperlipidemia (FCH) are characterized by elevated plasma LDL (FH) and LDL/triglycerides (FCH), with mouse models represented by LDL receptor (LDLR) and apolipoprotein E (ApoE) gene deletion mice, respectively. Given the impact of FH and FCH on health outcomes, we determined the impact of FH/FCH on vascular structure in LDLR and ApoE mice. LDLR, ApoE and control mice were utilized at 12–13 and 22–23 weeks when gracilis arteries were studied for wall mechanics and gastrocnemius muscles were harvested for microvessel density measurements. Conduit arteries and plasma samples were harvested for biochemical analyses. Arteries from ApoE and LDLR exhibited blunted expansion versus control, reduced distensibility and left-shifted stress versus strain relation (LDLR>ApoE). Microvessel density was reduced in ApoE and LDLR (ApoE>LDLR). Secondary analyses suggested that wall remodeling in LDLR was associated with cholesterol and MCP-1, while rarefaction in ApoE was associated with TNF-α, triglycerides and vascular production of TxA2. Remodeling in ApoE and LDLR appears distinct; as that in LDLR is preferential for vascular walls, while that for ApoE is stronger for rarefaction. Remodeling in LDLR may be associated with cellular adhesion, while that in ApoE may be associated with pro-apoptotsis and constrictor prostanoid generation.
PMCID: PMC2952832  PMID: 20141600
vascular wall mechanics; microvascular density; vascular wall distensibility; rodent models of dyslipidemia
9.  Apolipoprotein E4 domain interaction accelerates diet-induced atherosclerosis in hypomorphic Arg-61 Apoe mice 
Apolipoprotein (apo) E4 is an established risk factor for atherosclerosis, but the structural components underlying this association remain unclear. ApoE4 is characterized by two biophysical properties: domain interaction and molten globule state. Substituting Arg-61 for Thr-61 in mouse apoE introduces domain interaction without molten globule state, allowing us to delineate potential pro-atherogenic effects of domain interaction in vivo.
Methods and Results
We studied atherosclerosis susceptibility of hypomorphic Apoe mice expressing either Thr-61 or Arg-61 apoE (ApoeTh/h or ApoeRh/h mice). On a chow diet, both mouse models were normo-lipidemic with similar levels of plasma apoE and lipoproteins. However, on a high cholesterol diet, ApoeRh/h mice displayed increased levels of total plasma cholesterol and VLDL as well as larger atherosclerotic plaques in the aortic root, arch and descending aorta compared to ApoeTh/h mice. In addition, evidence of cellular dysfunction was identified in peritoneal ApoeRh/h macrophages which released lower amounts of apoE in culture medium and displayed increased expression of MHC class II molecules.
These data indicate that domain interaction mediates pro-atherogenic effects of apoE4 in part by modulating lipoprotein metabolism and macrophage biology. Pharmaceutical targeting of domain interaction could lead to new treatments for atherosclerosis in apoE4 individuals.
PMCID: PMC3346714  PMID: 22441102
Apolipoprotein E4; Domain interaction; Atherosclerosis; Lipoproteins; Macrophages
10.  Accumulation of apolipoprotein E-rich high density lipoproteins in hyperalphalipoproteinemic human subjects with plasma cholesteryl ester transfer protein deficiency. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1990;86(3):688-695.
This study characterized the plasma lipoproteins of familial hyperalphalipoproteinemic patients with or without deficiency of cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) activity. The subjects with CETP deficiency have increased levels of apolipoprotein (apo) E. The increased concentration of apo E in these subjects was correlated to the appearance of apo E-rich high density lipoproteins (HDL). Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel analysis revealed that these lipoproteins contained predominantly the apo E (82%) and little amount of apo A-I (18%). These apo E-rich HDL displayed a much higher affinity than human LDL in binding to LDL receptors on human fibroblasts. Furthermore, 3.5 times fewer apo E-rich HDL than LDL were required to saturate the receptors on fibroblasts. These data indicated that the apo E-rich HDL in CETP-deficient human subjects contained multiple copies of apo E and bound to the LDL receptor through multiple interactions. The apo E-rich HDL, with similar properties as cholesterol-induced apo E HDLc, were not detectable in normal human subjects or in hyperalphalipoproteinemic subjects with normal CETP activity. The apo E-containing HDL in the latter subjects were smaller and contained only small amounts of apo E (14%). The difference in apo E-containing HDL in these subjects suggests a correlation between CETP level and the appearance of apo E-rich HDL.
PMCID: PMC296782  PMID: 2118552
11.  Plasma Apolipoprotein Levels Are Associated with Cognitive Status and Decline in a Community Cohort of Older Individuals 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e34078.
Apolipoproteins have recently been implicated in the etiology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In particular, Apolipoprotein J (ApoJ or clusterin) has been proposed as a biomarker of the disease at the pre-dementia stage. We examined a group of apolipoproteins, including ApoA1, ApoA2, ApoB, ApoC3, ApoE, ApoH and ApoJ, in the plasma of a longitudinal community based cohort.
664 subjects (257 with Mild Cognitive Impairment [MCI] and 407 with normal cognition), mean age 78 years, from the Sydney Memory and Aging Study (MAS) were followed up over two years. Plasma apolipoprotein levels at baseline (Wave 1) were measured using a multiplex bead fluorescence immunoassay technique.
At Wave 1, MCI subjects had lower levels of ApoA1, ApoA2 and ApoH, and higher levels of ApoE and ApoJ, and a higher ApoB/ApoA1 ratio. Carriers of the apolipoprotein E ε4 allele had significantly lower levels of plasma ApoE, ApoC3 and ApoH and a significantly higher level of ApoB. Global cognitive scores were correlated positively with ApoH and negatively with ApoJ levels. ApoJ and ApoE levels were correlated negatively with grey matter volume and positively with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) volume on MRI. Lower ApoA1, ApoA2 and ApoH levels, and higher ApoB/ApoA1 ratio, increased the risk of cognitive decline over two years in cognitively normal individuals. ApoA1 was the most significant predictor of decline. These associations remained after statistically controlling for lipid profile. Higher ApoJ levels predicted white matter atrophy over two years.
Elderly individuals with MCI have abnormal apolipoprotein levels, which are related to cognitive function and volumetric MRI measures cross-sectionally and are predictive of cognitive impairment in cognitively normal subjects. ApoA1, ApoH and ApoJ are potential plasma biomarkers of cognitive decline in non-demented elderly individuals.
PMCID: PMC3372509  PMID: 22701550
12.  Liver-directed gene transfer and prolonged expression of three major human ApoE isoforms in ApoE-deficient mice. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1997;100(1):107-114.
Apolipoprotein E (apoE) plays a key role in lipoprotein metabolism and may have other important biological functions. In humans, there are three common, naturally occurring isoforms of apoE that are associated with differences in lipid levels and atherosclerosis. However, the direct in vivo effects of the apoE isoforms on lipoprotein metabolism and atherosclerosis are not yet fully understood. To investigate the effect of the apoE isoforms in vivo, we constructed second-generation recombinant adenoviruses encoding each of the apoE isoforms. These recombinant adenoviruses were injected intravenously into apoE-deficient mice fed a Western diet (mean baseline cholesterol level 1401 mg/dl) in order to study their effects in the absence of endogenous mouse apoE. Hepatic expression of apoE3 and apoE4 completely normalized the lipoprotein profile; 3 d after injection, mean plasma cholesterol levels were 194 and 217 mg/ dl, respectively, and this effect was maintained for at least 6 wk. Expression of apoE2 had much less effect on lipoprotein levels (mean cholesterol level 752 mg/dl 3 d after injection), despite much higher plasma levels of apoE2 compared with apoE3 and apoE4; by 6 wk after injection the cholesterol levels had returned to baseline levels in the apoE2-expressing mice. Expression of all three isoforms significantly increased HDL cholesterol levels by approximately threefold and was independent of the cholesterol-lowering effect. ApoE transgene expression was substantially prolonged compared with that achieved using a first generation adenovirus and apoE was readily detected in plasma 3 mo after virus injection. These studies demonstrate: (a) prolonged in vivo expression of human apoE isoforms in apoE deficient mice after second-generation recombinant adenovirus-mediated somatic gene transfer; and (b) significantly impaired ability of apoE2 in vivo to mediate clearance of remnant lipoproteins in apoE-deficient mice fed a Western diet compared with apoE3 and apoE4.
PMCID: PMC508170  PMID: 9202062
13.  White matter is altered with parental family history of Alzheimer’s disease 
Brain alterations in structure and function have been identified in people with risk factors for sporadic type Alzheimer’s disease (AD), suggesting that alterations can be detected decades before AD diagnosis. While the effect of Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) ε4 on the brain is well studied, less is known about the effect of family history of AD. We examined the main effects of family history and ApoE ε4 on brain integrity, in addition to assessing possible additive effects of these two risk factors.
Diffusion tensor imaging was performed in 136 middle-aged asymptomatic participants stratified on family history and ApoE ε4. Mean diffusivity and fractional anisotropy (FA) were entered in factorial analyses to test the effect of AD risk on microstructural brain integrity. We performed a post hoc analysis of the three principle diffusivities (λ1, λ2, λ3) to provide potential additional insight on underlying tissue differences.
Parental family history of AD was associated with lower FA in regions of the brain known to be affected by AD, including cingulum, corpus callosum, tapetum, uncinate fasciculus, hippocampus, and adjacent white matter. Contrary to previous reports there was no main effect of ApoE ε4; however, there was an additive effect of family history and ApoE ε4 where family history positive participants who were also ApoE ε4 carriers had the lowest FA compared to the other groups.
The data indicate that unknown risk factors contained in family history are associated with changes in microstructural brain integrity in areas of the brain known be affected by AD. Importantly, the results provide further evidence that AD pathology may be detected prior to cognitive changes, perhaps decades before disease onset.
PMCID: PMC2933285  PMID: 20713315
Alzheimer’s disease; family history; ApoE ε4; diffusion tensor imaging; MRI; white matter
14.  Heritability and major gene effects on left ventricular mass in the Chinese population: a family study 
Genetic components controlling for echocardiographically determined left ventricular (LV) mass are still unclear in the Chinese population.
We conducted a family study from the Chin-San community, Taiwan, and a total of 368 families, 1145 subjects, were recruited to undergo echocardiography to measure LV mass. Commingling analysis, familial correlation, and complex segregation analysis were applied to detect component distributions and the mode of inheritance.
The two-component distribution model was the best-fitting model to describe the distribution of LV mass. The highest familial correlation coefficients were mother-son (0.379, P < .0001) and father-son (0.356, P < .0001). Genetic heritability (h2) of LV mass was estimated as 0.268 ± 0.061 (P < .0001); it decreased to 0.153 ± 0.052 (P = .0009) after systolic blood pressure adjustment. Major gene effects with polygenic components were the best-fitting model to explain the inheritance mode of LV mass. The estimated allele frequency of the gene was 0.089.
There were significant familial correlations, heritability and a major gene effect on LV mass in the population-based families.
PMCID: PMC1579230  PMID: 16945138
15.  Arsenic exposure accelerates atherogenesis in apolipoprotein E(-/-) mice. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2003;111(14):1744-1748.
Epidemiologic studies have shown an association between elevated arsenic levels in drinking water and an increased risk of atherosclerosis and vascular diseases. The studies presented here were performed to evaluate the atherogenic potential of arsenic using a well-established and controlled animal model of human atherosclerosis, mice deficient in apolipoprotein E (ApoE), and in vitro systems including primary human vascular cells. Wild-type and ApoE-deficient mice were exposed to 20 or 100 microg/mL sodium arsenite in drinking water for 24 weeks. As assessed morphometrically, the size of grossly discernible lesions covering the intimal area of aorta were increased significantly in arsenic-treated ApoE-deficient mice compared with nontreated transgenic mice. This effect was not associated with increased levels of serum cholesterol but was accompanied by an accumulation of arsenic in the vessel wall. Introduction of cocoa butter into the diet for 2 weeks resulted in higher serum cholesterol levels and only slight increases in the lesion size in control or arsenic-exposed ApoE-deficient mice. There were no lesions observed in the wild-type C57BL6 mice, resistant to atherosclerosis, whether they received arsenic or control drinking water. In vitro studies, including primary aorta endothelial or smooth muscle cells, were conducted to evaluate whether arsenic induces cellular mechanisms relevant to atherogenesis such as endothelial dysfunction, lipid oxidation, and smooth muscle cell proliferation. Arsenic treatment does not modulate endothelial cell-mediated lipid oxidation or smooth muscle cell proliferation but induced the expression of genes coding inflammatory mediators, including interleukin-8. Induction of endothelial inflammatory activity may play a role in arsenic-related vascular effects.
PMCID: PMC1241717  PMID: 14594625
16.  Meta-Analysis of Peripheral Blood Apolipoprotein E Levels in Alzheimer’s Disease 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89041.
Peripheral blood Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) levels have been proposed as biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), but previous studies on levels of ApoE in blood remain inconsistent. This meta-analysis was designed to re-examine the potential role of peripheral ApoE in AD diagnosis and its potential value as a candidate biomarker.
We conducted a systematic literature search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane library, and BIOSIS previews for case-control studies measuring ApoE levels in serum or plasma from AD subjects and healthy controls. The pooled weighted mean difference (WMD) and 95% confidence interval (CI) were used to estimate the association between ApoE levels and AD risk.
Eight studies with a total of 2250 controls and 1498 AD cases were identified and analyzed. The pooled WMD from a random-effect model of AD participants compared with the healthy controls was −5.59 mg/l (95% CI: [−8.12, −3.06]). The overall pattern in WMD was not varied by characteristics of study, including age, country, assay method, publication year, and sample type.
Our meta-analysis supports a lowered level of blood ApoE in AD patients, and indicates its potential value as an important risk factor for AD. Further investigation employing standardized assay for ApoE measurement are still warranted to uncover the precise role of ApoE in the pathophysiology of AD.
PMCID: PMC3928366  PMID: 24558469
Neuroimage  2012;61(3):525-532.
Children of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) patients are at heightened risk of developing AD due to genetic influences, including the apolipoprotein E4 (ApoE4) allele. In this study, we assessed the earliest cortical changes associated with AD in 71 cognitively healthy, adult children of AD patients (AD offspring) as compared with 69 with no family history of AD (non-AD offspring). Cortical thickness measures were obtained using FreeSurfer from 1.5T magnetic resonance (MR) scans. ApoE genotyping was obtained. Primary analyses examined family history and ApoeE4 effects on cortical thickness. Secondary analyses examined age effects within groups. All comparisons were adjusted using False Discovery Rate at a significance threshold of p < 0.05. There were no statistically significant differences between family history and ApoE4 groups. Within AD offspring, increasing age was related to reduced cortical thickness (atrophy) over large areas of the precuneus, superior frontal and superior temporal gyri, starting at around age 60. Further, these patterns existed within female and maternal AD offspring, but were absent in male and paternal AD offspring. Within non-AD offspring, negative correlations existed over small regions of the superior temporal, insula and lingual cortices. These results suggest that as AD offspring age, cortical atrophy is more prominent, particularly if the parent with AD is mother or if the AD offspring is female.
PMCID: PMC3358455  PMID: 22503937
Antecedent biomarker; Familial risk; Alzheimer’s Disease; Dementia; Adult Children Study; Cortical thickness; Maternal risk
18.  Apolipoprotein(a) gene accounts for greater than 90% of the variation in plasma lipoprotein(a) concentrations. 
Plasma lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)], a low density lipoprotein particle with an attached apolipoprotein(a) [apo(a)], varies widely in concentration between individuals. These concentration differences are heritable and inversely related to the number of kringle 4 repeats in the apo(a) gene. To define the genetic determinants of plasma Lp(a) levels, plasma Lp(a) concentrations and apo(a) genotypes were examined in 48 nuclear Caucasian families. Apo(a) genotypes were determined using a newly developed pulsed-field gel electrophoresis method which distinguished 19 different genotypes at the apo(a) locus. The apo(a) gene itself was found to account for virtually all the genetic variability in plasma Lp(a) levels. This conclusion was reached by analyzing plasma Lp(a) levels in siblings who shared zero, one, or two apo(a) genes that were identical by descent (ibd). Siblings with both apo(a) alleles ibd (n = 72) have strikingly similar plasma Lp(a) levels (r = 0.95), whereas those who shared no apo(a) alleles (n = 52), had dissimilar concentrations (r = -0.23). The apo(a) gene was estimated to be responsible for 91% of the variance of plasma Lp(a) concentration. The number of kringle 4 repeats in the apo(a) gene accounted for 69% of the variation, and yet to be defined cis-acting sequences at the apo(a) locus accounted for the remaining 22% of the inter-individual variation in plasma Lp(a) levels. During the course of these studies we observed the de novo generation of a new apo(a) allele, an event that occurred once in 376 meioses.
PMCID: PMC443062  PMID: 1386087
19.  Macrophage-Specific ApoE Gene Repair Reduces Diet-Induced Hyperlipidemia and Atherosclerosis in Hypomorphic Apoe Mice 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e35816.
Apolipoprotein (apo) E is best known for its ability to lower plasma cholesterol and protect against atherosclerosis. Although the liver is the major source of plasma apoE, extra-hepatic sources of apoE, including from macrophages, account for up to 10% of plasma apoE levels. This study examined the contribution of macrophage-derived apoE expression levels in diet-induced hyperlipidemia and atherosclerosis.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Hypomorphic apoE (Apoeh/h) mice expressing wildtype mouse apoE at ∼2–5% of physiological levels in all tissues were derived by gene targeting in embryonic stem cells. Cre-mediated gene repair of the Apoeh/h allele in Apoeh/hLysM-Cre mice raised apoE expression levels by 26 fold in freshly isolated peritoneal macrophages, restoring it to 37% of levels seen in wildtype mice. Chow-fed Apoeh/hLysM-Cre and Apoeh/h mice displayed similar plasma apoE and cholesterol levels (55.53±2.90 mg/dl versus 62.70±2.77 mg/dl, n = 12). When fed a high-cholesterol diet (HCD) for 16 weeks, Apoeh/hLysM-Cre mice displayed a 3-fold increase in plasma apoE and a concomitant 32% decrease in plasma cholesterol when compared to Apoeh/h mice (602.20±22.30 mg/dl versus 888.80±24.99 mg/dl, n = 7). On HCD, Apoeh/hLysM-Cre mice showed increased apoE immunoreactivity in lesional macrophages and liver-associated Kupffer cells but not hepatocytes. In addition, Apoeh/hLysM-Cre mice developed 35% less atherosclerotic lesions in the aortic root than Apoeh/h mice (167×103±16×103 µm2 versus 259×103±56×103 µm2, n = 7). This difference in atherosclerosis lesions size was proportional to the observed reduction in plasma cholesterol.
Macrophage-derived apoE raises plasma apoE levels in response to diet-induced hyperlipidemia and by such reduces atherosclerosis proportionally to the extent to which it lowers plasma cholesterol levels.
PMCID: PMC3351426  PMID: 22606237
20.  Receptor for Advanced Glycation End Products (RAGE) Deficiency Attenuates the Development of Atherosclerosis in Diabetes 
Diabetes  2008;57(9):2461-2469.
OBJECTIVE—Activation of the receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) in diabetic vasculature is considered to be a key mediator of atherogenesis. This study examines the effects of deletion of RAGE on the development of atherosclerosis in the diabetic apoE−/− model of accelerated atherosclerosis.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—ApoE−/− and RAGE−/−/apoE−/− double knockout mice were rendered diabetic with streptozotocin and followed for 20 weeks, at which time plaque accumulation was assessed by en face analysis.
RESULTS—Although diabetic apoE−/− mice showed increased plaque accumulation (14.9 ± 1.7%), diabetic RAGE−/−/apoE−/− mice had significantly reduced atherosclerotic plaque area (4.9 ± 0.4%) to levels not significantly different from control apoE−/− mice (4.3 ± 0.4%). These beneficial effects on the vasculature were associated with attenuation of leukocyte recruitment; decreased expression of proinflammatory mediators, including the nuclear factor-κB subunit p65, VCAM-1, and MCP-1; and reduced oxidative stress, as reflected by staining for nitrotyrosine and reduced expression of various NADPH oxidase subunits, gp91phox, p47phox, and rac-1. Both RAGE and RAGE ligands, including S100A8/A9, high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), and the advanced glycation end product (AGE) carboxymethyllysine were increased in plaques from diabetic apoE−/− mice. Furthermore, the accumulation of AGEs and other ligands to RAGE was reduced in diabetic RAGE−/−/apoE−/− mice.
CONCLUSIONS—This study provides evidence for RAGE playing a central role in the development of accelerated atherosclerosis associated with diabetes. These findings emphasize the potential utility of strategies targeting RAGE activation in the prevention and treatment of diabetic macrovascular complications.
PMCID: PMC2518498  PMID: 18511846
21.  Structural and functional characterization of human apolipoprotein E 72-166 peptides in both aqueous and lipid environments 
There are three apolipoprotein E (apoE) isoforms involved in human lipid homeostasis. In the present study, truncated apoE2-, apoE3- and apoE4-(72-166) peptides that are tailored to lack domain interactions are expressed and elucidated the structural and functional consequences.
Methods & Results
Circular dichroism analyses indicated that their secondary structure is still well organized. Analytical ultracentrifugation analyses demonstrated that apoE-(72-166) produces more complicated species in PBS. All three isoforms were significantly dissociated in the presence of dihexanoylphosphatidylcholine. Dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine turbidity clearance assay showed that apoE4-(72-166) maintains the highest lipid-binding capacity. Finally, only apoE4-(72-166) still maintained significant LDL receptor binding ability.
Overall, apoE4-(72-166) peptides displayed a higher lipid-binding and comparable receptor-binding ability as to full-length apoE. These findings provide the explanation of diverged functionality of truncated apoE isoforms.
PMCID: PMC3022805  PMID: 21219628
22.  Identification of Apolipoprotein E Guangzhou (Arginine 150 Proline), a New Variant Associated with Lipoprotein Glomerulopathy 
American Journal of Nephrology  2007;28(2):347-353.
Lipoprotein glomerulopathy (LPG) is a rare disease characterized by thrombus-like substances in markedly dilated glomerular capillaries and elevated plasma levels of apolipoprotein E (apoE). Previous studies have shown that genetic disorders of apoE may contribute to the pathogenesis of LPG, but LPG may not be caused by apoE gene mutations in Chinese patients. This study investigated the association of a new variant of apoE with LPG in a Chinese family.
The apoE gene in a family with 4 LPG patients was sequenced. The polymerase chain reaction product of coding region of apoE exon 4 was cloned into pMD 18-T vector and then sequenced.
A novel point mutation in exon 4 of the apoE gene was identified in all 4 LPG patients and 1 asymptomatic family member. Sequence analysis confirmed a nucleotide G to C point mutation in exon 4 (base 308) of the apoE gene in all patients and the asymptomatic family member. This missense mutation denotes amino acid substitution of the proline residue for arginine residue at position 150 of apoE. Those patients were all heterozygotes with apoE Guangzhou. One of 2 grandsons was a heterozygous carrier of apoE Guangzhou, although he did not have proteinuria.
The results of this study suggest that apoE (arginine 150 proline) is a novel apoE variant that etiologically related to LPG. This variant (apoE Guangzhou) may cause a marked molecular conformational change of the apoE and thus impair its binding ability to lipids.
PMCID: PMC2785906  PMID: 18046082
Lipoprotein glomerulopathy; Apolipoprotein E; Nephrotic syndrome; Gene mutation
23.  Variable expression of familial dysbetalipoproteinemia in apolipoprotein E*2 (Lys146-->Gln) Allele carriers. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1994;94(3):1252-1262.
Genetic and biochemical studies were carried out in 96 relatives of six independently ascertained probands with familial dysbetalipoproteinemia (FD) carrying the APOE*2 (Lys146-->Gln) allele. Compared to noncarriers, the 40 heterozygous APOE*2 (Lys146-->Gln) allele carriers exhibited markedly increased mean levels of cholesterol and triglyceride in the very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) (1.89 +/- 0.37 vs 0.30 +/- 0.27 and 1.86 +/- 0.37 vs 0.68 +/- 0.27 mmol/liter, respectively) and plasma apolipoprotein (apo) E levels (28.1 +/- 1.6 vs 4.6 +/- 1.1 mg/dl), which is characteristic for FD. By means of a pedigree-based maximum likelihood method we calculated that carrier-status accounted for 57% and 71%, respectively, of the total variance of the ratio (VLDL + IDL)-cholesterol/plasma triglyceride and plasma apoE levels. APOE*2 (Lys146-->Gln) and APOE*3-Leiden allele carriers were found to differ significantly in: (a) plasma apoE levels, (b) in the amounts of triglycerides in the VLDL and VLDL + IDL fraction, and (c) in the amount of cholesterol in the VLDL and VLDL + IDL fraction relative to the amount of triglyceride in these fractions. In the APOE*2 (Lys146-->Gln) allele carriers the VLDL and VLDL + IDL fraction is relatively rich in triglycerides as compared with that in APOE*3-Leiden carriers. We hypothesize that these two rare mutations of apoE both lead to dominantly inherited forms of FD along different underlying metabolic defects.
PMCID: PMC295210  PMID: 8083367
24.  Apolipoprotein E4 Domain Interaction Induces Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress and Impairs Astrocyte Function* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2009;284(40):27273-27280.
Domain interaction, a structural property of apolipoprotein E4 (apoE4), is predicted to contribute to the association of apoE4 with Alzheimer disease. Arg-61 apoE mice, a gene-targeted mouse model specific for domain interaction, have lower brain apoE levels and synaptic, functional, and cognitive deficits. We hypothesized that domain interaction elicits an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in astrocytes and an unfolded protein response that targets Arg-61 apoE for degradation. Primary Arg-61 apoE astrocytes had less intracellular apoE than wild-type astrocytes, and unfolded protein response markers OASIS (old astrocyte specifically induced substance), ATF4, and XBP-1 and downstream effectors were up-regulated. ER stress appears to cause global astrocyte dysfunction as glucose uptake was decreased in Arg-61 apoE astrocytes, and astrocyte-conditioned medium promoted neurite outgrowth less efficiently than wild-type medium in Neuro-2a cell cultures. We showed age-dependent up-regulation of brain OASIS levels and processing in Arg-61 apoE mice. ER stress and astrocyte dysfunction represent a new paradigm underlying the association of apoE4 with neurodegeneration.
PMCID: PMC2785655  PMID: 19666463
25.  APOE-Mimetic Peptides Reduce Behavioral Deficits, Plaques and Tangles in Alzheimer's Disease Transgenics 
Neuro-Degenerative Diseases  2012;10(1-4):122-126.
After age, the second largest risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD) is apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype, where APOE4 is associated with lower apoE protein levels, more severer brain pathology, enhanced inflammation and disease. Small peptides corresponding to the receptor-binding region of apoE mimic the anti-inflammatory activity of the apoE holoprotein. These apoE mimetics greatly improve behavioral outcomes and neuronal survival in head trauma models that display AD pathology and neuronal loss. Objective: To determine whether apoE mimetics change behavior, inflammation and pathology in CVND-AD (SwDI-APP/NOS2–/–) transgenic mice.
Starting at 9 months, apoE peptides were subcutaneously administered 3 times per week for 3 months followed by behavioral, histochemical and biochemical testing.
Treatment with apoE mimetics significantly improved behavior while decreasing the inflammatory cytokine IL-6, neurofibrillary tangle-like and amyloid plaque-like structures. Biochemical measures matched the visible pathological results.
Treatment with apoE mimetics significantly improved behavior, reduced inflammation and reduced pathology in CVND-AD mice. These improvements are associated with apoE-mimetic-mediated increases in protein phosphatase 2A activity. Testing in additional AD models showed similar benefits, reinforcing this novel mechanism of action of apoE mimetics. These data suggest that the combination of anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective activities of apoE mimetics represents a new generation of potential therapeutics for AD.
PMCID: PMC3363346  PMID: 22326991
Apolipoprotein E; Neuroprotection; Anti-inflammatory activity; SET (or I2PP2A); Protein phosphatase 2A; Dephosphorylation; Neurofibrillary tangles; Tau; Amyloid; Amyloid-β peptide; Alzheimer's disease

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