The relationship between lipoprotein(a) and the complications of diabetes mellitus

Acta Diabetol. 2003 Jun;40(2):65-76. doi: 10.1007/s005920300007.


The risk of cardiovascular disease is increased approximately two- to four-fold in patients with diabetes mellitus compared with non-diabetic controls. The nature of this increased risk cannot be completely explained by the contribution of traditional risk factors. As such, there has been a great deal of interest in assessing the role of lipoprotein(a) (Lp(a)), an LDL-like lipoprotein, in the vascular complications of diabetes. Although numerous studies in the non-diabetic population have demonstrated an association between elevated plasma Lp(a) concentration and risk for atherosclerotic disorders, the contribution of Lp(a) to the enhanced risk of vascular disease in the diabetic population is not clearly defined. Herein we review the structure and potential functions of Lp(a), the determination of Lp(a) levels, and the epidemiological evidence supporting its role in coronary heart disease and address the following controversial questions regarding the role of Lp(a) in diabetes mellitus: (1) are plasma Lp(a) levels and phenotype distributions altered in type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus and type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus and does the degree of metabolic control influence Lp(a) levels in these patients; (2) what is the relationship between Lp(a) and renal disease in patients with diabetes mellitus; (3) do increased plasma Lp(a) concentrations in patients with diabetes contribute to the vascular complications of this disease; and (4) can the atherogenicity of Lp(a) in diabetes be enhanced in the absence of elevated levels of this lipoprotein due to biochemical modifications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arteriosclerosis / blood
  • Arteriosclerosis / physiopathology
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / blood
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Lipoprotein(a) / blood*
  • Risk Factors


  • Lipoprotein(a)