Apolipoprotein A-I–Derived Amyloid in Atherosclerosis: Its Association With Plasma Levels of Apolipoprotein A-I and Cholesterol

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Wild-type apolipoprotein A-I (apo A-I)–derived amyloid commonly occurs in atherosclerotic plaques. To clarify apo A-I amyloid formation, plasma levels of apo A-I and cholesterol were related to the presence of amyloid in atherosclerotic plaques in 15 patients with peripheral atherosclerosis, subjected to arterial reconstruction. Plasma levels of apo A-I and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol were slightly higher in patients with apo A-I–derived amyloid than in those without, but the difference was not significant. Levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and total cholesterol were significantly higher in the group with amyloid. High concentrations of apo A-I in the arterial intima are probably of greater importance to amyloid formation than high plasma levels of the protein. During atherosclerosis, the acute phase reactant serum amyloid A may displace apo A-I from HDL, leading to increased concentration of lipid-free apo A-I in the intima and conformational changes of apo A-I, which make it more fibrillogenic. Some forms of amyloid fibrils have been shown to be cytotoxic. Apo AI–derived amyloid is possibly a pathogenically important factor in atherosclerosis.

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