• Open Access

Enigmatic Role of Lipoprotein(a) in Cardiovascular Disease

Authors

  • Erdembileg Anuurad M.D, Ph.D, M.A.S.,

    1. Department of Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, and the VA Northern California Health Care System, Sacramento, California, USA
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  • Byambaa Enkhmaa M.D, Ph.D.,

    1. Department of Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, and the VA Northern California Health Care System, Sacramento, California, USA
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  • Lars Berglund M.D., Ph.D.

    1. Department of Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, and the VA Northern California Health Care System, Sacramento, California, USA
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L. Berglund (lars.berglund@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu)

Abstract

Lipoprotein (a), [Lp(a)] has many properties in common with low-density lipoprotein, (LDL) but contains a unique protein apolipoprotein(a), linked to apolipoprotein B-100 by a single disulfide bond. There is a substantial size heterogeneity of apo(a), and generally smaller apo(a) sizes tend to correspond to higher plasma Lp(a) levels, but this relation is far from linear, underscoring the importance to assess allele-specific apo(a) levels. The presence of apo(a), a highly charged, carbohydrate-rich, hydrophilic protein may obscure key features of the LDL moiety and offer opportunities for binding to vessel wall elements. Recently, interest in Lp(a) has increased because studies over the past decade have confirmed and more robustly demonstrated a risk factor role of Lp(a) for cardiovascular disease. In particular, levels of Lp(a) carried in particles with smaller size apo(a) isoforms are associated with coronary artery disease (CAD). Other studies suggest that proinflammatory conditions may modulate risk factor properties of Lp(a). Further, Lp(a) may act as a preferential acceptor for proinflammatory oxidized phospholipids transferred from tissues or from other lipoproteins. However, at present only a limited number of agents (e.g., nicotinic acid and estrogen) has proven efficacy in lowering Lp(a) levels. Although Lp(a) has not been definitely established as a cardiovascular risk factor and no guidelines presently recommend intervention, Lp(a)-lowering therapy might offer benefits in subgroups of patients with high Lp(a) levels. Clin Trans Sci 2010; Volume 3: 327–332

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