Lipid transporters: Membrane transport systems for cholesterol and fatty acids

Nada A. Abumrad, Zeina Sfeir, Margery A. Connelly, Chris Coburn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Lipophilic molecules can passively diffuse across cell membranes, a process that is driven by the concentration gradient, by availability of acceptors to facilitate desorption from the bilayer, and by cellular metabolism. However, evidence has accumulated that supports the existence of specialized, protein-facilitated membrane transport systems for many lipophilic molecules. This has generated considerable debate regarding why such systems need to exist. The present review summarizes recent developments related to the membrane transport systems for cholesterol and fatty acids, which have been shown to involve structurally related proteins. General similarities of the cholesterol and fatty acid systems to other lipid transport systems (briefly discussed in the Introduction section) are highlighted in the Conclusion section. The overall aim of the present review is to illustrate why lipid transporters are needed in vivo, and how they accomplish specific functions that can not be met by lipid diffusion alone. (C) 2000 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-262
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2000


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