Effects of pravastatin on apolipoprotein-specific high density lipoprotein subpopulations and low density lipoprotein subclass phenotypes in patients with primary hypercholesterolemia

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      The HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor class of cholesterol-lowering agents reduces very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) and low density lipoproteins (LDL) and slightly increases high density lipoproteins (HDL). However, the effects of these agents on subclasses within the LDL and HDL fractions are not well understood. We have employed an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor, pravastatin, to determine if LDL subclass phenotypes, as determined by gradient gel electrophoresis, and HDL particles containing both apolipoprotein (apo) A-I and A-II, Lp(AI w AII), and those containing apo A-I but not A-II, Lp(AI w/o AII) are affected by pravastatin (10 mg daily). Twenty-four subjects with LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) > 160 mg/dl, triglyceride (TG) < 350 mg/dl and no recent myocardial infarction or secondary causes of hypercholesterolemia were enrolled. Compared with an age- and sex-matched normolipidemic reference group (controls), the hypercholesterolemic subjects had reduced levels of Lp(AI w/o AII) and increased levels of Lp(AI w AII) at baseline. In addition, both of their HDL subpopulations had significantly more small (7.0–8.2 nm) particles (P < 0.02 and 0.0001) but significantly fewer large (9.2–11.2 nm) particles (P < 0.002 and 0.0001). Pravastatin induced statistically significant (P < 0.001) reductions in plasma total C (15%), LDL-C (18%), and apo B (16%). While apo A-I and A-II levels increased 5% (P < 0.001) and 6% (P < 0.05), respectively, concentration, composition, and size abnormalities in Lp(AI w AII) and Lp(AI w/o AII) persisted. Lp(a), apo E and cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) levels also did not change. Although changes in LDL subclass phenotypes were observed, all changes involved the intermediate phenotype, and no significant changes in LDL peak particle diameter were seen in either group. Interrelationships between CETP, LDL subclass phenotypes and HDL subpopulations were also seen. Conclusions: Although pravastatin decreased plasma apo B and LDL lipid concentrations, no major changes were seen in LDL subclass phenotypes or HDL subpopulations even in the presence of abnormalities associated with arteriosclerosis. Similarly, CETP, which is believed to play a role in HDL and LDL particle size distribution, did not change with pravastatin treatment. Further research is needed to determine the. pathophysiological basis of abnormal HDL and LDL subclasses in hypercholesterolemia and explore methods of rectifying the abnormalities.


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