Lipoprotein(a) and HIV: Allele-Specific Apolipoprotein(a) Levels Predict Carotid Intima–Media Thickness in HIV-Infected Young Women in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study

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In the general population, lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] has been established as an independent causal risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Lp(a) levels are to a major extent regulated by a size polymorphism in the apolipoprotein(a) [apo(a)] gene. The roles of Lp(a)/apo(a) in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–related elevated cardiovascular disease risk remain unclear.

Approach and Results—

The associations between total plasma Lp(a) level, allele-specific apo(a) level, an Lp(a) level carried by individual apo(a) alleles, and common carotid artery intima–media thickness were assessed in 150 HIV-infected and 100 HIV-uninfected women in the WIHS (Women’s Interagency HIV Study). Linear regression analyses with and without adjustments were used. The cohort was young (mean age, ≈31 years), with the majority being Blacks (≈70%). The prevalence of a small size apo(a) (≤22 Kringle repeats) or a high Lp(a) level (≥30 mg/dL) was similar by HIV status. Total plasma Lp(a) level (P=0.029) and allele-specific apo(a) level carried by the smaller apo(a) sizes (P=0.022) were significantly associated with carotid artery intima–media thickness in the HIV-infected women only. After accounting for confounders (age, race, smoking, body mass index, blood pressure, hepatitis C virus coinfection, menopause, plasma lipids, treatment status, CD4+ T cell count, and HIV/RNA viral load), the association remained significant for both Lp(a) (P=0.035) and allele-specific apo(a) level carried by the smaller apo(a) sizes (P=0.010) in the HIV-infected women. Notably, none of the other lipids/lipoproteins was associated with carotid artery intima–media thickness.


Lp(a) and allele-specific apo(a) levels predict carotid artery intima–media thickness in HIV-infected young women. Further research is needed to identify underlying mechanisms of an increased Lp(a) atherogenicity in HIV infection.

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