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Am J Pathol. 1996 Jun;148(6):1985-97.

Expression of very low density lipoprotein receptor in the vascular wall. Analysis of human tissues by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, USA.


The recently cloned very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) receptor binds triglyceride-rich, apolipoprotein-E-containing lipoproteins with high affinity. The observation that VLDL receptor mRNA is abundantly expressed in extracts of tissues such as skeletal muscle and heart, but not liver, has led to the hypothesis that this receptor may facilitate the peripheral uptake of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins. However, little information is available concerning the types of cells that express this receptor in vivo. As expression of the VLDL receptor in the vascular wall might have important implications for the uptake and transport of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, and perhaps facilitate the development of atherosclerosis in hypertriglyceridemic individuals, we used in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry to determine whether VLDL receptor mRNA and protein was expressed in human vascular tissue. We observed expression of the receptor by both endothelial and smooth muscle cells within normal arteries and veins, as well as within atherosclerotic plaques. In the latter, the VLDL receptor was also expressed by macrophage-derived foam cells. The widespread distribution of the VLDL receptor in vascular tissue suggests a potentially important role for this receptor in normal and pathophysiological vascular processes.

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