Our understanding of the genetics, metabolism and pathophysiology of the atherogenic plasma lipoprotein Lp(a) has considerably increased over past years. Nevertheless, the precise mechanisms regulating the biosynthesis and assembly of Lp(a) are poorly understood and controversially discussed. Lp(a) plasma concentrations are determined by synthesis and not by degradation. Transcriptional and post-translational mechanisms have been identified as regulating Lp(a) production in primary hepatocytes and transfected cell lines. Assembly of Lp(a) occurs extracellularly from newly synthesized apolipoprotein(a) and circulating LDL. This view has recently been challenged by in-vivo kinetic studies in humans which are compatible with an intracellular assembly event. Lp(a) assembly is a complex two-step process of multiple non-covalent interactions between apolipoprotein(a) and apolipoprotein B-100 of LDL followed by covalent disulfide linkage of two free cysteine residues on both proteins.
© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.