Structural heterogeneity of apoB-containing serum lipoproteins visualized using cryo-electron microscopy

Rik Van Antwerpen, Michael La Belle, Edita Navratilova, Ronald M. Krauss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Cryo-electron microscopy was used to analyze the structure of lipoprotein particles in density gradient subfractions of human very low density lipoprotein (VLDL), intermediate density lipoprotein (IDL), and low density lipoprotein (LDL). Lipoproteins from a normolipidemic subject with relatively large and buoyant LDL (pattern A) and from a subject with a predominance of small dense LDL (pattern B) were compared. Projections of VLDL in vitreous ice were heterogeneous in size, but all were circular with a relatively even distribution of contrast. Selected projections of LDL, on the other hand, were circular with a high density ring or rectangular with two high density bands. Both circular and rectangular LDL projections decreased in average size with increasing subfraction density, but were found in all of 10 density gradient subfractions, both in pattern A and in pattern B profiles. Preparations of total IDL contained particles with the structural features of VLDL as well as particles resembling LDL. IDL particles resembling LDL were observed in specific density gradient subfractions in the denser region of the VLDL-IDL density range. Within the group of IDL particles resembling LDL considerable heterogeneity was observed, but no structural features specific for the pattern A or pattern B lipoprotein profile were recognized. The observed structural heterogeneity of the apolipoprotein B-containing serum lipoproteins may reflect differences in the composition of these particles that may also influence their metabolic and pathologic properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1827-1836
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Lipid Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1999


  • IDL
  • LDL
  • Low density lipoprotein
  • VLDL

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology


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