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Am J Med. 1990 Feb;88(2):94-100.

Three different schedules of low-density lipoprotein apheresis compared with plasmapheresis in patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia.

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Department of Chemical Pathology, Red Cross Children's Hospital, Rondebosch, South Africa.



To determine the biochemical and clinical response of two patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia to three different schedules of low-density lipoprotein apheresis compared with plasmapheresis.


Two female patients aged 17 years, both affected by homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, underwent low-density lipoprotein apheresis using a dextran-sulfate/cellulose affinity column on successive twice-weekly, weekly, and biweekly schedules. Plasmapheresis was carried out only at biweekly intervals. Plasma lipids and apolipoproteins A1 and B were assayed before and after each procedure. Cardiac status was assessed before and after the study.


On schedule 1 of apheresis, the immediate post-procedure low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels declined to 60 mg/100 dL plasma. Quasi-steady-state values of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and apolipoprotein B were also markedly reduced, with levels approaching the upper limits of normal for age and sex. This response was attenuated as the intervals between procedures were prolonged. No advantage of low-density lipoprotein apheresis over plasmapheresis was observed during the biweekly protocol except that after plasmapheresis high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels declined by 50% or more compared with less than 10% after apheresis. The latter procedure, especially on schedules 1 and 2, caused an increase in the quasi-steady-state concentrations of both high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and apolipoprotein A1. Thus, mean low-density lipoprotein cholesterol/high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and apolipoprotein B/apo A1 ratios were reduced by more than three- to four-fold during twice-weekly apheresis. Other laboratory parameters remained stable throughout except for iron and hemoglobin levels, which were reduced with both plasmapheresis and apheresis. Xanthomas regressed significantly in the one patient who had not been treated prior to the current trial. Cardiac changes were minor in both patients.


Low-density lipoprotein apheresis proved safe and effective on an accelerated protocol as well as during more conventional schedules. Owing to its simplicity, selectivity, and safety, apheresis using a dextran-sulfate/cellulose column is possibly the optimum means currently available for the extracorporeal removal of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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