Human apolipoprotein E2 transgenic mice show lipid accumulation in retinal pigment epithelium and altered expression of VEGF and bFGF in the eyes

Sung Joon Lee, Jeong Hun Kim, Jin Hyoung Kim, Mi Ja Chung, Qingcheng Wen, Hum Chung, Kyu Won Kim, Young Suk Yu

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We investigated the human apolipoprotein E2 (apoE2) transgenic mouse as an animal model system for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Transgenic mice expressing human apoE2 and C57BL/6J mice were fed normal chow or a high-fat diet for 4 weeks. Eyes were collected from the mice and lipid deposits in retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) were assessed using electron microscopy. The expressions of apoE, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), and pigment-epithelium derived factor (PEDF), which are molecular markers for angiogenesis, were assessed with immunohistochemistry. Eyes from apoE2 mice, regardless of diet, contained lipid accumulation in RPE under electron microscopy, whereas control C57BL/6J eyes did not. Lipid accumulation was found predominantly in the RPE and the Bruch's membrane and increased in the eyes of apoE2 mice after one month of a high-fat diet (8±2 per 50 μm2 for normal chow and 11±2 per 50 μm2, p<0.05). ApoE expression was similar in the apoE2 and control mice; however, VEGF and bFGF were overexpressed in the retinal pigment epithelium of apoE2 eyes compared with control eyes, and PEDF expression was slightly decreased. These expression patterns of VEGF, bFGF, and PEDF suggest angiogenesis is progressing in apoE2 eyes. In conclusion, the eyes of apoE2 mice develop typical lipid accumulations, a common characteristic of AMD, making them a suitable animal model for AMD. The expression profile of VEGF and bFGF on the retinal pigment epithelium suggests that apoE2 may induce neovascularization by altering angiogenic cytokines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1024-1030
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of microbiology and biotechnology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2007


  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Apolipoprotein E2
  • VEGF
  • bFGF

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