Author(s): Hovingh GK, Hutten BA, Holleboom AG, Petersen W, Rol P,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Prospective epidemiological studies have shown that low plasma levels of HDL cholesterol (HDL-C) are associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Despite nearly 40 years of research, however, it is unclear whether this also holds true for individuals with severely reduced levels of HDL-C due to mutations in the lecithin:cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) gene. Better insight into CVD risk in these individuals may provide clues toward the potential of LCAT as a pharmaceutical target to raise HDL-C levels. METHODS AND RESULTS: Lipids, lipoproteins, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP), and carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) were assessed in 47 heterozygotes for LCAT gene mutations and 58 family controls. Compared with controls, heterozygotes presented with a mean 36\% decrease in HDL-C levels (P<0.0001), a 23\% increase in triglyceride levels (P<0.0001), and a 2.1-fold increase in CRP levels (P<0.0001). Mean carotid IMT was significantly increased in heterozygotes compared with family controls (0.623+/-0.13 versus 0.591+/-0.08 mm). After adjustment for age, gender, and alcohol use, this difference proved statistically significant (P<0.0015). CONCLUSIONS: The data show that heterozygosity for LCAT gene defects is associated with low HDL-C levels and elevated concentration of triglycerides and CRP in plasma. This phenotype underlies increased IMT in carriers versus controls, which suggests that LCAT protects against atherosclerosis. This in turn indicates that targeting LCAT to raise HDL-C may reduce CVD risk.
This article was published in Circulation
and referenced in Journal of Molecular and Genetic Medicine