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J Neurochem. 2009 Aug;110(4):1254-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.06222.x. Epub 2009 Jun 15.

Bioactive TGF-beta can associate with lipoproteins and is enriched in those containing apolipoprotein E3.

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Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


Transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-beta1) has central functions in development, tissue maintenance, and repair and has been implicated in major diseases. We discovered that TGF-beta1 contains several amphipathic helices and hydrophobic domains similar to apolipoprotein E (apoE), a protein involved in lipoprotein metabolism. Indeed, TGF-beta1 associates with lipoproteins isolated from human plasma, cultured liver cells, or astrocytes, and its bioactivity was highest in high-density lipoprotein preparations. Importantly, lipoproteins containing the apoE3 isoform had higher TGF-beta levels and bioactivity than those containing apoE4, a major genetic risk factor for atherosclerosis and Alzheimer's disease. Because TGF-beta1 can be protective in these diseases an association with apoE3 may be beneficial. Association of TGF-beta with different types of lipoproteins may facilitate its diffusion, regulate signaling, and offer additional specificity for this important growth factor.

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