In this issue of the JCI, Kanter et al. make a strong case for implicating apolipoprotein C3 (APOC3) as a central player in atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease that is commonly seen in individuals with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM). Kanter and colleagues suggest that insulin deficiency elevates plasma APOC3 as well as atherogenic triglyceride-rich (TG-rich) lipoproteins (TRLs). Using two mouse models of T1DM, the authors investigated APOC3-mediated inhibition of both TG hydrolysis by lipoprotein lipase and hepatic uptake of remnant lipoproteins. They suggest that poorly catabolized lipoproteins, enriched in both APOC3 and APOE content, are particularly atherogenic. Notably, treating both mouse models with an APOC3 antisense oligonucleotide lowered both plasma APOC3 and TRLs, and prevented atherosclerosis. These impactful mouse studies were supported by the initial finding that APOC3 predicted coronary artery disease events in participants of the prospective Coronary Artery Calcification in Type 1 Diabetes study with normal TG levels.
Henry N. Ginsberg, Gissette Reyes-Soffer