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Curr Opin Lipidol. 2007 Jun;18(3):325-32.

Cholesterol metabolism, apolipoprotein E, adenosine triphosphate-binding cassette transporters, and Alzheimer's disease.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Child and Family Research Institute, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.



Recent evidence suggests that cholesterol metabolism participates in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. Apolipoprotein E is the main lipid carrier in the brain and the best-established risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer's disease. Intracellular cholesterol levels influence the generation of amyloid-beta peptides, the toxic species thought to be a primary cause of Alzheimer's disease. Finally, compounds that modulate cholesterol metabolism affect amyloid-beta generation. This review summarizes data linking apolipoprotein E and adenosine triphosphate-binding cassette transporters to aspects of cholesterol metabolism and Alzheimer's disease pathogenesis.


In vivo, the lipidation status of apolipoprotein E affects amyloid-beta burden in mice with Alzheimer's disease, which appears to caused by the modulation of amyloid-beta deposition or clearance rather than amyloid-beta production. State-of-the-art in-vivo assays reveal that amyloid-beta is cleared from the brain by multiple pathways. Members of the adenosine triphosphate-binding cassette superfamily of transporters regulate lipid homeostasis and apolipoprotein metabolism in the brain, and may affect Alzheimer's disease pathogenesis by modulating apolipoprotein E lipidation as well as intracellular sterol homeostasis.


Proteins involved in brain cholesterol metabolism may affect the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. Compounds that modulate the expression of these proteins may be of therapeutic benefit in Alzheimer's disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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