Measuring the contribution of Lp(a) cholesterol towards LDL-C interpretation

Erica M. Fatica, Jeffrey W. Meeusen, Vlad C. Vasile, Allan S. Jaffe, Leslie J. Donato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] is a pro-atherogenic and pro-thrombotic LDL-like particle recognized as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). The cholesterol within Lp(a) (Lp(a)-C) contributes to the reported LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) concentration by nearly all available methods. Accurate LDL-C measurements are critical for identification of genetic dyslipidemias such as familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). FH diagnostic criteria, such as the Dutch Lipid Clinic Network (DLCN) criteria, utilize LDL-C concentration cut-offs to assess the likelihood of FH. Therefore, failure to adjust for Lp(a)-C can impact accurate FH diagnosis and classification, appropriate follow-up testing and treatments, and interpretation of cholesterol-lowering treatment efficacy. Objective: In this study, we use direct Lp(a)-C measurements to assess the potential misclassification of FH from contributions of Lp(a)-C to reported LDL-C in patient samples submitted for advanced lipoprotein profiling. Methods: A total of 31,215 samples submitted for lipoprotein profiling were included. LDL-C was measured by beta quantification or calculated by one of three equations. Lp(a)-C was measured by quantitative lipoprotein electrophoresis. DLCN LDL-C cut-offs were applied to LDL-C results before and after accounting for Lp(a)-C contribution. Results: Lp(a)-C was detected in 8665 (28%) samples. A total of 940 subjects were reclassified to a lower DLCN LDL-C categories; this represents 3% of the total patient series or 11% of subjects with measurable Lp(a)-C. Conclusion: Lp(a)-C is present in a significant portion of samples submitted for advanced lipid testing and could cause patient misclassification when using FH diagnostic criteria. These misclassifications could trigger inappropriate follow-up, treatment, and cascade testing for suspected FH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-51
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Biochemistry
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Familial hypercholesterolemia
  • Lipid phenotyping
  • Lipoprotein(a)
  • Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol
  • Risk classification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry


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