Re-evaluation of the structure of low density lipoproteins

E. Schnitzer, D. Lichtenberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Low density lipoprotein (LDL) is an established atherogenic factor. Much effort has therefore been devoted to elucidation of its structure, yielding the generally accepted model according to which the neutral lipids (cholesterol ester and triglycerides) form a lipid core emulsified by phospholipids, cholesterol and the amphipathic Apolipoprotein B. Yet, the detailed structure of LDL is not clear. The present work was carried out with the aim of re-evaluating the LDL structure using the minimal number of assumptions: in view of the previously noted surface deficit (lack of sufficient PL and cholesterol to cover the surface of the lipidic core) we have assumed that polar head groups are not covered by apo B. Other than that, we have 'allowed' Apo B to penetrate into the PL monolayers and the lipidic core and to pertrude into the solution (be elevated above the PL head group level). We have also 'allowed' neutral lipid penetration into the monolayer and variation of the thickness of the phospholipid monolayers within reasonable boundaries. Based on the established values of relevant constants (molecular weights and volumes, densities and surface areas) we have computed the radius of the particle, the penetration of Apo B into lipidic milieus and the fraction of the surface area covered by Apo B as functions of the LDL composition, the monolayer thickness and the 'elevation' of Apo B above this monolayer. These computations show that at least 40% of the LDL surface must be covered by protein and that the protein penetrates, on the average, only about a half of the PL monolayer. Thus it is not very likely to penetrate into the lipidic core. These general features are preserved in the smaller LDL particles of hypertriglyceridemic patients. Assuming that no PL head group is covered by Apo B, the previously described immobilization of 20% of the phospholipids is likely to result from the interaction of Apo B with neighboring PL. According to our computations this can be regarded consistent with the previously proposed arrangement of the apo B as a '3-4 domain structure' or a long string configuration but inconsistent with 'one domain' or 'twenty domain' structures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-74
Number of pages12
JournalChemistry and Physics of Lipids
Issue number1
StatePublished - 31 Mar 1994


  • LDL
  • Lipoprotein structure


Dive into the research topics of 'Re-evaluation of the structure of low density lipoproteins'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this