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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Emerging Cardiovascular Risk Markers. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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ApoB and ApoA1

By measuring ApoB we can quantify the amount of all atherogenic or potentially atherogenic lipoproteins that carry this apolipoprotein. Although lipoprotein particles other than LDL can carry ApoB, LDL accounts for the vast majority of ApoB; therefore, it is a good index of LDL particle number. Furthermore, the other particles that can have ApoB (such as IDL and Lp(a)) are also atherogenic and so it is not problematic if they are counted along with LDL, since they also contribute to cardiovascular risk.

What about ApoA1? HDL-C is known as 'good cholesterol'. The role for HDL in the body is to sequester excess cholesterol and bring it back to the liver. Since HDL can remove cholesterol and transport it back to the liver for excretion or re-utilization it is indeed good. HDL is a negative cardiovascular risk factor; as its concentration goes up, a person's cardiovascular risk decreases.

A person with low cardiovascular risk would have low ApoB levels and high ApoA1 levels.

If we measure both ApoB and ApoA1 and express them as a ratio of ApoB/ApoA1 we get a powerful cardiovascular risk marker. The ratio should be approximately 0.3-0.9. Patients with a higher ratio have elevated ApoB (LDL) and/or low ApoA1 (HDL) and are thus at increased risk. By combining these two markers in a ratio, we get synergy and enhanced predictive power.