THE ROLE OF LIPOPROTEIN(a)/APOLIPOPROTEIN(a) IN ENDOTHELIAL DYSFUNCTION: MECHANISTIC STUDIES IN VASCULAR ENDOTHELIUM
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Multiple lines of evidence suggest that elevated plasma lipoprotein(a) (Lp(a)) concentrations are a significant risk factor for the development of a number of vascular diseases including coronary heart disease and stroke. Lp(a) consists of a low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-like moiety and an unique glycoprotein, apolipoprotein(a) (apo(a)), that is covalently attached to the apolipoproteinB-100 (apoB-100) component of LDL by a single disulfide bond. Many studies have suggested a role for Lp(a) in the process of endothelial dysfunction. Indeed, Lp(a) has been shown to increase both the expression of adhesion molecules on endothelial cells (EC), as well as monocyte and leukocyte chemotactic activity in these cells. We have previously demonstrated that Lp(a), through its apo(a) moiety, increases actomyosin-driven EC contraction which, as a consequence, increases EC permeability. In this thesis, we have demonstrated a role for the strong lysine-binding site in the kringle IV type 10 domain of apo(a) in increasing EC permeability, which occurs through a Rho/Rho kinase-dependent pathway. We have further validated these findings using mouse mesenteric arteries in a pressure myograph system. We also have dissected another major signaling pathway initiated by apo(a) that involves in a disruption of adherens junctions in EC. In this pathway, apo(a)/Lp(a) activates the PI3K/Akt/GSK3β-dependent pathway to facilitate nuclear translocation of beta-catenin. In the nucleus beta-catenin induced the expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and the secretion of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) from the EC. Finally, we have presented data to suggest a novel inflammatory role for apo(a) in which it induces the activation of nuclear factor-kappaB through promotion of the dissociation of IkappaB from the inactive cytoplasmic complex; this allows the nuclear translocation of NFkappaB with attendant effects on the transcription of pro-inflammatory genes. Taken together, our findings may facilitate the development of new drug targets for mitigating the harmful effects of Lp(a) on vascular EC which corresponds to an early step in the process of atherogenesis.