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Kidney Int. 1997 Dec;52(6):1685-92.

Increased plasma concentrations of LDL-unbound apo(a) in patients with end-stage renal disease.

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


Lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] and its characteristic glycoprotein apolipoprotein(a) [apo(a)] are risk factors for atherosclerosis in the general population. Patients with renal disease show an elevation of Lp(a). Recent studies have described an arteriovenous difference of Lp(a) in the renovascular bed as well as the plasma-derived fragmented LDL-unbound apo(a) in urine, suggesting that the kidney is involved in the metabolism of Lp(a). We therefore investigated whether patients with chronic renal failure have higher levels of LDL-unbound apo(a) and whether this could account for the increased Lp(a) concentrations in these patients. In addition, we studied the possible generation of apo(a) fragments in vitro by mimicking uremic plasma conditions and by investigating the assembly of Lp(a) in cell culture experiments. Patients treated by hemodialysis (N = 185) and by continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD; N = 20) had markedly elevated absolute (1.22 +/- 1.55 mg/dl and 2.14 +/- 2.86 mg/dl) as well as relative (7.5% and 7.3%) amounts of LDL-unbound apo(a) in comparison to controls (0.46 +/- 0.48 mg/dl or 4.5%). Following renal transplantation the absolute amount decreased significantly. Lp(a) plasma concentration was the most important determining variable for the absolute amount of LDL-unbound apo(a) and showed a positive correlation in both hemodialysis patients (r = 0.85) and controls (r = 0.92). In vitro experiments demonstrated that "uremization" of plasma samples did not generate a higher amount of LDL-unbound apo(a). Although LDL of renal patients has different chemical and structural properties as compared to control LDL, the extracellular assembly of Lp(a) did not differ between patients and controls. Therefore, the higher amounts of LDL-unbound apo(a) found in renal disease are not caused by an impaired assembly of Lp(a), but rather indicate a catabolic role of the kidney for LDL-unbound apo(a) as was already shown for Lp(a). Despite a small contribution, these elevated levels cannot explain the higher Lp(a) values found in patients with end-stage renal disease.

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