Functional lecithin: Cholesterol acyltransferase Is not required for efficient atheroprotection in humans

Laura Calabresi, Damiano Baldassarre, Samuela Castelnuovo, Paola Conca, Letizia Bocchi, Chiara Candini, Beatrice Frigerio, Mauro Amato, Cesare R. Sirtori, Paola Alessandrini, Marcello Arca, Giuliano Boscutti, Luigi Cattin, Loreto Gesualdo, Tiziana Sampietro, Gaetano Vaudo, Fabrizio Veglia, Sebastiano Calandra, Guido Franceschini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Mutations in the LCAT gene cause lecithin:cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) deficiency, a very rare metabolic disorder with 2 hypoalphalipoproteinemia syndromes: classic familial LCAT deficiency (Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man No. 245900), characterized by complete lack of enzyme activity, and fish-eye disease (Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man No. 136120), with a partially defective enzyme. Theoretically, hypoalphalipoproteinemia cases with LCAT deficiency should be at increased cardiovascular risk because of high-density lipoprotein deficiency and defective reverse cholesterol transport. Methods and Results The extent of preclinical atherosclerosis was assessed in 40 carriers of LCAT gene mutations from 13 Italian families and 80 healthy controls by measuring carotid intima-media thickness (IMT). The average and maximum IMT values in the carriers were 0.07 and 0.21 mm smaller than in controls (P = 0.0003 and P = 0.0027), respectively. Moreover, the inheritance of a mutated LCAT genotype had a remarkable gene-dose? Dependent effect in reducing carotid IMT (P = 0.0003 for average IMT; P = 0.001 for maximum IMT). Finally, no significant difference in carotid IMT was found between carriers of LCAT gene mutations that cause total or partial LCAT deficiency (ie, familial LCAT deficiency or fish-eye disease). Conclusions Genetically determined low LCAT activity in Italian families is not associated with enhanced preclinical atherosclerosis despite low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. This finding challenges the notion that LCAT is required for effective atheroprotection and suggests that elevating LCAT expression or activity is not a promisingtherapeutic strategy to reduce cardiovascular risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)628-635
Number of pages8
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Aug 18 2009


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Genetics
  • Imaging
  • Lipoproteins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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