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Lipoprotein(a) (Lp(a)) is an independent risk factor in the development of atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases (ASCVD) and calcific aortic valve disease (CAVD). Lp(a) is an LDL-like particle to which apolipoprotein (a) (apo(a)) is covalently bound. Apo(a) contains a variable number of kringle IV repeats, a kringle V and a protease domain. Serum/plasma Lp(a) concentrations are traditionally expressed as total particle mass in mg/L. Concern has arisen lately as flawed Lp(a) mass tests have masked its clinical utility. The determinants of variability in Lp(a) composition were investigated, including the apo(a) size polymorphism, post-translational modifications -N- and O-glycosylation- and the lipid:protein ratio. Depending on the number of kringle IV-2 repeats, the theoretical protein content of the Lp(a) particle varies between 30 and 46 (w/w) %, which inescapably confounds Lp(a) mass measurements. The authors advocate that reporting of Lp(a) particle concentrations in mass units is metrologically inappropriate and should be abandoned, as it results in systematically biased Lp(a) results. Enabling technology, such as mass spectrometry, allows unequivocal molecular characterization of the apo(a) measurand(s) and accurate quantitation of apo(a) in molar units, unaffected by apo(a) size polymorphism. To guarantee that Lp(a)/apo(a) tests are fit-for-clinical-purpose, basic metrology principles should be implemented upfront during test development. Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


L R Ruhaak, C M Cobbaert. Quantifying apolipoprotein(a) in the era of proteoforms and precision medicine. Clinica chimica acta; international journal of clinical chemistry. 2020 Dec;511:260-268

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PMID: 33058841

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