Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
Academic Editor: David Hui
Plasma lipid transfer proteins include plasma cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) and phospholipid transfer protein (PLTP). Plasma CETP facilitates the transfer of cholesteryl ester (CE) from high-density lipoprotein (HDL) to apolipoprotein (apo) B-containing lipoproteins, and is a key protein in reverse cholesterol transport which protects vessel walls from atherosclerosis. The importance of plasma CETP in lipoprotein metabolism was highlighted by the discovery of CETP-deficient subjects with a marked hyperalphalipoproteinemia (HALP). The deficiency of CETP causes various abnormalities in the concentration, composition, and functions of both HDL and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Although the significance of CETP in terms of atherosclerosis has been controversial, the in vitro evidence showed that large CE-rich HDL particles in CETP deficiency are defective in cholesterol efflux. Recent epidemiological studies in Japanese-Americans and in Omagari area where HALP subjects with the intron 14 splicing defect of CETP gene are markedly frequent, have demonstrated an increased incidence of coronary atherosclerosis in CETP-deficient patients. Similarly, scavenger receptor BI (SR-BI) knockout mice show a marked increase in HDL-cholesterol but accelerated atherosclerosis in atherosclerosis-susceptible mice. Thus, CETP deficiency is a state of impaired reverse cholesterol transport which may possibly lead to the development of atherosclerosis. PLTP transfers phospholipids from triglyceride (TG)-rich lipoproteins to HDL during lipolysis. Human plasma PLTP has a 20% sequence homology to human CETP and human PLTP gene has a marked similarity in the exon-intron organization. Both CETP and PLTP belong to the lipid transfer/lipopolysaccharide binding protein (LBP) gene family, which also includes LBP and bactericidal/permeability-increasing protein (BPI). Although these 4 proteins possess different physiological functions, they share marked biochemical similarities. The current review will also focus on the molecular genetics and function of plasma lipid transfer proteins, including CETP and PLTP.