Apolipoprotein E (apoE) plays a crucial role in lipoprotein metabolism both in plasma and in peripheral tissues. To test whether apoE in the vascular wall has a direct and local effect on atherogenesis, we established transgenic mice expressing human apoE under control of H2 Ld promoter. Studies on mRNA levels and immunohistochemistry demonstrated that this line was characterized by high expression of human apoE in the arterial wall while its expression was relatively low in other tissues as compared with the respective endogenous expression of mouse apoE. They showed no difference in plasma cholesterol levels and lipoprotein profile from controls when fed both normal and atherogenic diets. However, after 24 wk of an atherogenic diet, the formation of fatty streak lesions in proximal aorta was markedly inhibited in transgenic mice as compared with controls. Both lesion area and esterified cholesterol content were < 30% of those in controls. In a tissue cholesterol labeling study with 3H-cholesterol, the specific activity of aorta cholesterol was much less in transgenic mice, suggesting that apoE enhances cholesterol efflux from the aortic wall into plasma. Thus, apoE has anti-atherogenic action which is mediated via enhancing reverse cholesterol transport from arterial wall.
H Shimano, J Ohsuga, M Shimada, Y Namba, T Gotoda, K Harada, M Katsuki, Y Yazaki, N Yamada