Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1990, 87: 9388-9390
Lipoprotein(a), Lp(a), is an extremely atherogenic lipoprotein. Beside man, Lp(a) has been found in the plasma of other primates, but until now only in few other species. The mechanism by which it exerts its atherogenicity is still poorly understood. We observed that Lp(a) has been found in the plasma of several species unable to synthesize ascorbate and not in other species. We have now detected Lp(a) in the plasma of the guinea pig. We induced atherosclerosis in this animal by dietary ascorbate depletion and, using SDS PAGE and subsequent immunoblotting, we identified Lp(a) as accumulating in the atherosclerotic plaque. Most importantly, adequate amounts of ascorbate (40 mg/kg bw/d) prevent the development of atherosclerotic lesions in this animal model and the accumulation of Lp(a) in the arterial wall. We suggest an analogous mechanism in humans because of the similarity between the guinea pig and man with respect to both the lack of endogenous ascorbate production and the role of Lp(a) in human atherosclerosis.