This study sought to examine the role of lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2/PLA2G7) in human inflammation and coronary atherosclerosis.
Lp-PLA2 has emerged as a potential therapeutic target in coronary heart disease. Data supporting Lp-PLA2 are indirect and confounded by species differences; whether Lp-PLA2 is causal in coronary heart disease remains in question.
We examined inflammatory regulation of Lp-PLA2 during experimental endotoxemia in humans, probed the source of Lp-PLA2 in human leukocytes under inflammatory conditions, and assessed the relationship of variation in PLA2G7, the gene encoding Lp-PLA2, with coronary artery calcification.
In contrast to circulating tumor necrosis factor-alpha and C-reactive protein, blood and monocyte Lp-PLA2 messenger ribonucleic acid decreased transiently, and plasma Lp-PLA2 mass declined modestly during endotoxemia. In vitro, Lp-PLA2 expression increased dramatically during human monocyte to macrophage differentiation and further in inflammatory macrophages and foamlike cells. Despite only a marginal association of single nucleotide polymorphisms in PLA2G7 with Lp-PLA2 activity or mass, numerous PLA2G7 single nucleotide polymorphisms were associated with coronary artery calcification. In contrast, several single nucleotide polymorphisms in CRP were significantly associated with plasma C-reactive protein levels but had no relation with coronary artery calcification.
Circulating Lp-PLA2 did not increase during acute phase response in humans, whereas inflammatory macrophages and foam cells, but not circulating monocytes, are major leukocyte sources of Lp-PLA2. Common genetic variation in PLA2G7 is associated with subclinical coronary atherosclerosis. These data link Lp-PLA2 to atherosclerosis in humans while highlighting the challenge in using circulating Lp-PLA2 as a biomarker of Lp-PLA2 actions in the vasculature.