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Science. 1989 Nov 17;246(4932):904-10.

The mysteries of lipoprotein(a).

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


Lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] is a macromolecular complex found in human plasma that combines structural elements from the lipoprotein and blood clotting systems and that is associated with premature coronary heart disease and stroke. It is assembled from low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and a large hydrophilic glycoprotein called apolipoprotein(a) [apo(a)], which is homologous to the protease zymogen plasminogen. Plasma Lp(a) concentrations vary 1000-fold between individuals and represent a continuous quantitative genetic trait with a skewed distribution in Caucasian populations. Variation in the hypervariable apo(a) gene on chromosome 6q2.6-q2.7 and interaction of apo(a) alleles with defective LDL-receptor genes explain a large fraction of the variability of plasma Lp(a) concentrations. Though of high theoretical and practical interest, many aspects of the metabolism, function, evolution, and regulation of plasma concentrations of Lp(a) are presently unknown, controversial, or mysterious.

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