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Mechanisms that minimize retinal impact of apolipoprotein E absence[S]


Apolipoprotein E (APOE) is a component of lipid-transporting particles and a recognition ligand for receptors, which bind these particles. The APOE isoform ε2 is a risk factor for age-related macular degeneration; nevertheless, APOE absence in humans and mice does not significantly affect the retina. We found that retinal cholesterol biosynthesis and the levels of retinal cholesterol were increased in Apoe-/- mice, whereas cholesterol elimination by metabolism was decreased. No focal cholesterol deposits were observed in the Apoe-/- retina. Retinal proteomics identified the most abundant cholesterol-related proteins in WT mice and revealed that, of these cholesterol-related proteins, only APOA4 had increased expression in the Apoe-/- retina. In addition, there were changes in retinal abundance of proteins involved in proinflammatory and antiinflammatory responses, cellular cytoskeleton maintenance, vesicular traffic, and retinal iron homeostasis. The data obtained indicate that when APOE is absent, particles containing APOA1, APOA4, and APOJ still transport cholesterol in the intraretinal space, but these particles are not taken up by retinal cells. Therefore, cholesterol biosynthesis inside retinal cells increase, whereas metabolism to oxysterols decreases to prevent cells from cholesterol depletion. These and other compensatory changes underlie only a minor retinal phenotype in Apoe-/- mice.

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