Lipoprotein (a) in familial hypercholesterolaemia

Paul N. Durrington, Bilal Bashir, Deepak Bhatnagar, Handrean Soran

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The role of lipoprotein (a) in atherogenesis has been the subject of argument for many years. Evidence that it is raised in familial hypercholesterolaemia has been disputed not least because a mechanism related to low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor mediated catabolism has been lacking. Whether lipoprotein (a) increases the already raised atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk in familial hypercholesterolaemia is also more dubious than is often stated. We review the evidence in an attempt to provide greater clarity.

RECENT FINDINGS: Lipoprotein (a) levels are raised as a consequence of inheriting familial hypercholesterolaemia. The mechanism for this is likely to involve increased hepatic production, probably mediated by PCSK9 augmented by apolipoprotein E. The extent to which raised lipoprotein (a) contributes to the increased ASCVD risk in familial hypercholesterolaemia remains controversial.Unlike, for example, statins which are effective across the whole spectrum of LDL concentrations, drugs in development to specifically lower lipoprotein (a) are likely to be most effective in people with the highest levels of lipoprotein (a). People with familial hypercholesterolaemia may therefore be in the vanguard of those in whom theses agents should be exhibited.

SUMMARY: Inheritance of familial hypercholesterolaemia undoubtedly increases the likelihood that lipoprotein (a) will be raised. However, in familial hypercholesterolaemia when ASCVD incidence is already greatly increased due to high LDL cholesterol, whether lipoprotein (a) contributes further to this risk cogently needs to be tested with drugs designed to specifically lower lipoprotein (a).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-263
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent opinion in lipidology
Issue number4
Early online date13 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022


  • apolipoprotein E
  • atherosclerotoc cardiovascular risk
  • familial hypercholesterolaemia
  • lipoprotein (a)
  • low density lipoprotein cholesterol
  • proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9
  • statins


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