Apolipoprotein E is localized to the cytoplasm of human cortical neurons: A light and electron microscopic study

Seol Heui Han, Gillian Einstein, Karl H. Weisgraber, Warren J. Strittmatter, Ann M. Saunders, Margaret Pericak-Vance, Allen D. Roses, Donald E. Schmechel

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177 Scopus citations


To clarify the localization of the glial protein apolipoprotein E (apoE) in human cortical neurons, we employed specific immunoelectron microscopy using a monoclonal antibody to human apoE in surgical specimens of temporal lobe. The specimens were rapidly fixed after excision from five patients undergoing surgery for medically intractable seizures, and postmortem material was also taken from one Alzheimer's disease patient for comparison. Strong apoE immunoreactivity was observed in many astrocytes filling the perinuclear cytoplasm and distal processes completely. Some cortical neurons were also apoE-immunoreactive. ApoE immunoreactivity of neurons was less intense than glial cells and was distributed in a punctate fashion confined to the region of the cell body and proximal dendrites, but not distal processes. These findings suggest that apoE, which is presumably synthesized and stored by astrocytes, may be taken up by cortical neurons in younger adult humans. The presence of apoE in some human neurons may allow apoE to affect neuronal metabolism. Isoform-specific interactions with microtubule- associated proteins, such as tau or MAP2C, could influence the rate of pathology in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)535-544
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of neuropathology and experimental neurology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Apolipoprotein E
  • Astrocytes
  • Cortical neurons
  • Human brain
  • Immunoelectron microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Neuroscience(all)


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