Speciation of human plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDL): HDL stability and apolipoprotein A-I partitioning

Henry J. Pownall, Brian D. Hosken, Baiba K. Gillard, Catherine L. Higgins, Yu Lin Hu, John B. Massey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The distribution of apolipoprotein (apo) A-I between human high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and water is an important component of reverse cholesterol transport and the atheroprotective effects of HDL. Chaotropic perturbation (CP) with guanidinium chloride (Gdm-Cl) reveals HDL instability by inducing the unfolding and transfer of apo A-I but not apo A-II into the aqueous phase while forming larger apo A-I deficient HDL-like particles and small amounts of cholesteryl ester-rich microemulsions (CERMs). Our kinetic and hydrodynamic studies of the CP of HDL species separated according to size and density show that (1) CP mediated an increase in HDL size, which involves quasi-fusion of surface and core lipids, and release of lipid-free apo A-I (these processes correlate linearly), (2) >94% of the HDL lipids remain with an apo A-I deficient particle, (3) apo A-II remains associated with a very stable HDL-like particle even at high levels of Gdm-Cl, and (4) apo A-I unfolding and transfer from HDL to water vary among HDL subfractions with the larger and more buoyant species exhibiting greater stability. Our data indicate that apo A-I's on small HDL (HDL-S) are highly dynamic and, relative to apo A-I on the larger more mature HDL, partition more readily into the aqueous phase, where they initiate the formation of new HDL species. Our data suggest that the greater instability of HDL-S generates free apo A-I and an apo A-I deficient HDL-S that readily fuses with the more stable HDL-L. Thus, the presence of HDL-L drives the CP remodeling of HDL to an equilibrium with even larger HDL-L and more lipid-free apo A-I than with either HDL-L or HDL-S alone. Moreover, according to dilution studies of HDL in 3 M Gdm-Cl, CP of HDL fits a model of apo A-I partitioning between HDL phospholipids and water that is controlled by the principal of opposing forces. These findings suggest that the size and relative amount of HDL lipid determine the HDL stability and the fraction of apo A-I that partitions into the aqueous phase where it is destined for interaction with ABCA1 transporters, thereby initiating reverse cholesterol transport or, alternatively, renal clearance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7449-7459
Number of pages11
Issue number25
StatePublished - Jun 26 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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