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Research Article

The inverse association of plasma lipoprotein(a) concentrations with apolipoprotein(a) isoform size is not due to differences in Lp(a) catabolism but to differences in production rate.

D J Rader, W Cain, K Ikewaki, G Talley, L A Zech, D Usher and H B Brewer, Jr

Molecular Disease Branch National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland 20892.

Published June 1994

Lipoprotein(a) (Lp[a]) is an atherogenic lipoprotein which is similar in structure to low density lipoproteins (LDL) but contains an additional protein called apolipoprotein(a) (apo[a]). Apo(a) is highly polymorphic in size, and there is a strong inverse association between the size of the apo(a) isoform and the plasma concentration of Lp(a). We directly compared the in vivo catabolism of Lp(a) particles containing different size apo(a) isoforms to establish whether there is an effect of apo(a) isoform size on the catabolic rate of Lp(a). In the first series of studies, four normal subjects were injected with radio-labeled S1-Lp(a) and S2-Lp(a) and another four subjects were injected with radiolabeled S2-Lp(a) and S4-Lp(a). No significant differences in fractional catabolic rate were found between Lp(a) particles containing different apo(a) isoforms. To confirm that apo(a) isoform size does not influence the rate of Lp(a) catabolism, three subjects heterozygous for apo(a) were selected for preparative isolation of both Lp(a) particles. The first was a B/S3-apo(a) subject, the second a S4/S6-apo(a) subject, and the third an F/S3-apo(a) subject. From each subject, both Lp(a) particles were preparatively isolated, radiolabeled, and injected into donor subjects and normal volunteers. In all cases, the catabolic rates of the two forms of Lp(a) were not significantly different. In contrast, the allele-specific apo(a) production rates were more than twice as great for the smaller apo(a) isoforms than for the larger apo(a) isoforms. In a total of 17 studies directly comparing Lp(a) particles of different apo(a) isoform size, the mean fractional catabolic rate of the Lp(a) with smaller size apo(a) was 0.329 +/- 0.090 day-1 and of the Lp(a) with the larger size apo(a) 0.306 +/- 0.079 day-1, not significantly different. In summary, the inverse association of plasma Lp(a) concentrations with apo(a) isoform size is not due to differences in the catabolic rates of Lp(a) but rather to differences in Lp(a) production rates.

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