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Medical Term:

lipoprotein

Pronunciation: lip'o-pro'ten, li'po-

Definition: Any complex or compound containing both lipid and protein. Lipoproteins are important constituents of biologic membranes and of myelin. Conjugation with protein facilitates transport of lipids, which are hydrophobic, in the aqueous medium of the plasma. Plasma lipoproteins can be separated by ultracentrifugation, electrophoresis, or immunoelectrophoresis. They migrate electrophoretically with a- and ß-globulins, but are usually classified according to their densities (flotation constants). The principal classes by density are chylomicrons, which transport dietary cholesterol and triglycerides from the intestine to the liver and other tissues; very low density lipoproteins (VLDL), which transport triglycerides from the intestine and liver to muscle and adipose tissue; low density lipoproteins (LDL), which transport cholesterol to tissues other than the liver; and high density lipoproteins (HDL), which transport cholesterol to the liver for excretion in bile. The properties of these and other plasma lipoproteins are set forth in the accompanying table (see this page). The protein moiety of a lipoprotein is called an apolipoprotein (or apoprotein). Besides rendering lipids soluble in an aqueous solution, some apolipoproteins perform biochemical functions such as enzyme activation. The apolipoproteins of plasma lipoproteins are synthesized by the liver and intestinal mucosal cells and vary in molecular weight from 7,000 to 500,000. Protein makes up more than 50% of some HDLs but only 1% of chylomicrons. As the proportion of lipid in a lipoprotein increases, its density decreases. A plasma lipoprotein particle is typically spheric, with a hydrophobic core of triacylglycerol, cholesteryl esters, and apolar amino acid residues surrounded by hydrophilic protein structures and phospholipids.

© Copyright 2016 Wolters Kluwer. All Rights Reserved. Review Date: Sep 19, 2016.
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