What is Apolipoprotein - A1?
Also Known As:
Apolipoprotein A-I (apo A-I) is a protein that has specific roles in the transportation and metabolism of lipids and is the main protein component in high-density lipoprotein (HDL, the “good cholesterol”). This test measures the amount of apo A-I in the blood.
Lipids alone cannot dissolve in the blood; they are like the oil that floats on water. Apolipoproteins are the proteins that combine with lipids to make lipoprotein particles that can transport lipids throughout the bloodstream. Apolipoproteins provide structural integrity to lipoproteins and shield the water-repellent (hydrophobic) lipids at their center.
Most lipoproteins are cholesterol- or triglyceride-rich (two main lipids) and carry them throughout the body for uptake by cells. HDL, however, is like an empty taxi. It goes out to the tissues and picks up excess cholesterol, then transports it back to the liver. In the liver, the cholesterol is either recycled for future use or excreted in bile. HDL’s reverse transport is the only way that cells can get rid of excess cholesterol. This reverse transport helps protect the arteries and, if there is enough HDL present, it can even reverse the build-up of fatty plaques, deposits resulting from atherosclerosis that can lead to cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Apolipoprotein A is the taxi driver. It activates the enzymes that load cholesterol from the tissues into HDL and allows HDL to be recognized and bound by receptors in the liver at the end of the transport. There are two forms of apolipoprotein A: apo A-I and apo A-II. Apo A-I is found in greater proportion than apo A-II (about 3 to 1). The concentration of apo A-I can be measured directly and tends to rise and fall with HDL levels. Deficiencies in apo A-I correlate with an increased risk of developing CVD. Apo A-I levels provide more information to help evaluate CVD risk, especially when HDL levels are low.
How is it used?
Apolipoprotein A-I (apo A-I) may be ordered, along with other lipid tests, as part of a profile to help determine a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). It may be used as an alternative to the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) test, but it is not generally considered “better” or more informative than HDL and is not ordered routinely.
Apo A-I is a protein that has a specific role in the metabolism of lipids and is the main protein component in HDL, the “good cholesterol”. HDL removes excess cholesterol from cells and takes it to the liver for recycling or disposal. Levels of apo A-I tend to rise and fall with HDL levels, and deficiencies in apo A-I correlate with an increased risk of developing CVD.
An apo A-I test may sometimes be ordered to:
- Help diagnose inherited or acquired conditions that cause apo A-I deficiencies
- Help evaluate people who have a personal or family history of heart disease and/or high cholesterol and triglycerides or low HDL
- Monitor the effectiveness of lifestyle changes and lipid treatments
An apo A-I may be ordered along with an apolipoprotein B (apo B) test to determine an apo B/apo A-I ratio. This ratio is sometimes used as an alternative to a total cholesterol/HDL ratio (sometimes reported as part of a lipid profile) to evaluate the risk of developing CVD.
What is Apolipoprotein - B?
Also Known As:
Apolipoprotein B-100 (also called apolipoprotein B or apo B) is a protein that is involved in the metabolism of lipids and is the main protein constituent of lipoproteins such as very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the “bad cholesterol”). This test measures the amount of apo B in the blood.
Apolipoproteins combine with lipids to transport them throughout the bloodstream. Apolipoproteins provide structural integrity to lipoproteins and shield the water-repellent (hydrophobic) lipids at their center. Most lipoproteins are cholesterol- or triglyceride-rich and carry lipids through the body for uptake by cells.
Chylomicrons are the lipoprotein particles that carry dietary lipids from the digestive tract, via the bloodstream, to tissue – mainly the liver. In the liver, the body repackages these dietary lipids and combines them with apo B-100 to form triglyceride-rich VLDL. This combination is like a taxi full of passengers with apo B-100 as the taxi driver. In the bloodstream, the taxi moves from place to place, releasing one passenger at a time.
An enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL) removes triglycerides from VLDL to produce intermediate-density lipoproteins (IDL) first and then LDL. Each VLDL particle contains one molecule of apo B-100, which is retained as VLDL loses triglycerides and shrinks to become the more cholesterol-rich LDL. Apo B-100 is recognized by receptors found on the surface of many of the body’s cells. These receptors promote the uptake of cholesterol into the cells.
The cholesterol that LDL and apo B-100 transport are vital for cell membrane integrity, sex hormone production, and steroid production. In excess, however, LDL can lead to fatty deposits (plaques) in artery walls and lead to hardening and scarring of the blood vessels. These fatty depositions narrow the vessels in a process termed atherosclerosis. The atherosclerotic process increases the risk of a heart attack.
Apo B-100 levels tend to mirror LDL-C levels, a test routinely ordered as part of a lipid profile. Many experts think that apo B levels may eventually prove to be a better indicator of risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) than LDL-C. Some recommend the measurement of apo B to help with risk prediction when a person has multiple risk factors. Other experts disagree; they feel that apo B is only a marginally better alternative and do not recommend its routine use. The clinical utility of apo B and that of other emerging cardiac risk markers such as apo A-I, Lp(a), and hs-CRP has yet to be fully established.
How is the test used?
The apolipoprotein B (apo B) test is used, along with other lipid tests, to help determine an individual’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD).
This test is not used as a general population screen but may be ordered if a person has a family history of heart disease and/or high cholesterol and triglycerides (hyperlipidemia). It may be performed, along with other tests, to help diagnose the cause of abnormal lipid levels, especially when someone has elevated triglyceride levels.
A healthcare practitioner may order both an apo A-I (associated with high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the “good” cholesterol) and an apo B to determine an apo B/apo A-I ratio. This ratio is sometimes used as an alternative to a total cholesterol/HDL ratio to evaluate the risk of developing CVD.
Apo B levels may be ordered to monitor the effectiveness of lipid treatment as an alternative to non-HDL-C (non-HDL-C is the total cholesterol concentration minus the amount of HDL).
In rare cases, an apo B test may be ordered to help diagnose a genetic problem that causes over-or under-production of apo B.