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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2000 Feb;20(2):522-8.

Lipoprotein(a) in homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia.

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  • 1Institute for Medical Biology and Human Genetics. University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.


Lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] is a quantitative genetic trait that in the general population is largely controlled by 1 major locus-the locus for the apolipoprotein(a) [apo(a)] gene. Sibpair studies in families including familial defective apolipoprotein B or familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) heterozygotes have demonstrated that, in addition, mutations in apolipoprotein B and in the LDL receptor (LDL-R) gene may affect Lp(a) plasma concentrations, but this issue is controversial. Here, we have further investigated the influence of mutations in the LDL-R gene on Lp(a) levels by inclusion of FH homozygotes. Sixty-nine members of 22 families with FH were analyzed for mutations in the LDL-R as well as for apo(a) genotypes, apo(a) isoforms, and Lp(a) plasma levels. Twenty-six individuals were found to be homozygous for FH, and 43 were heterozygous for FH. As in our previous analysis, FH heterozygotes had significantly higher Lp(a) than did non-FH individuals from the same population. FH homozygotes with 2 nonfunctional LDL-R alleles had almost 2-fold higher Lp(a) levels than did FH heterozygotes. This increase was not explained by differences in apo(a) allele frequencies. Phenotyping of apo(a) and quantitative analysis of isoforms in family members allowed the assignment of Lp(a) levels to both isoforms in apo(a) heterozygous individuals. Thus, Lp(a) levels associated with apo(a) alleles that were identical by descent could be compared. In the resulting 40 allele pairs, significantly higher Lp(a) levels were detected in association with apo(a) alleles from individuals with 2 defective LDL-R alleles compared with those with only 1 defective allele. This difference of Lp(a) levels between allele pairs was present across the whole size range of apo(a) alleles. Hence, mutations in the LDL-R demonstrate a clear gene-dosage effect on Lp(a) plasma concentrations.

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