The journey towards understanding lipoprotein(a) and cardiovascular disease risk: are we there yet?

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Evidence continues to mount for an important role for elevated plasma concentrations of lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] in mediating risk of atherothrombotic and calcific aortic valve diseases. However, there continues to be great uncertainty regarding some basic aspects of Lp(a) biology including its biosynthesis and catabolism, its mechanisms of action in health and disease, and the significance of its isoform size heterogeneity. Moreover, the precise utility of Lp(a) in the clinic remains undefined.

Recent findings

The contribution of elevated Lp(a) to cardiovascular risk continues to be more precisely defined by larger studies. In particular, the emerging role of Lp(a) as a potent risk factor for calcific aortic valve disease has received much scrutiny. Mechanistic studies have identified commonalities underlying the impact of Lp(a) on atherosclerosis and aortic valve disease, most notably related to Lp(a)-associated oxidized phospholipids. The mechanisms governing Lp(a) concentrations remain a source of considerable dispute.

Summary

This article highlights some key remaining challenges in understanding Lp(a) actions and clinical significance. Most important in this regard is demonstration of a beneficial effect of lowering Lp(a), a development that is on the horizon as effective Lp(a)-lowering therapies are being tested in the clinic.

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