Very-Low-Density Lipoprotein-Associated Apolipoproteins Predict Cardiovascular Events and Are Lowered by Inhibition of APOC-III

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2017 Feb 21;69(7):789-800. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2016.11.065.


Background: Routine apolipoprotein (apo) measurements for cardiovascular disease (CVD) are restricted to apoA-I and apoB. Here, the authors measured an unprecedented range of apolipoproteins in a prospective, population-based study and relate their plasma levels to risk of CVD.

Objectives: This study sought to measure apolipoproteins directly by mass spectrometry and compare their associations with incident CVD and to obtain a system-level understanding of the correlations of apolipoproteins with the plasma lipidome and proteome.

Methods: Associations of 13 apolipoproteins, 135 lipid species, and 211 other plasma proteins with incident CVD (91 events), defined as stroke, myocardial infarction, or sudden cardiac death, were assessed prospectively over a 10-year period in the Bruneck Study (N = 688) using multiple-reaction monitoring mass spectrometry. Changes in apolipoprotein and lipid levels following treatment with volanesorsen, a second-generation antisense drug targeting apoC-III, were determined in 2 human intervention trials, one of which was randomized.

Results: The apolipoproteins most significantly associated with incident CVD were apoC-II (hazard ratio per 1 SD [HR/SD]: 1.40; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.17 to 1.67), apoC-III (HR/SD: 1.38; 95% CI: 1.17 to 1.63), and apoE (HR/SD: 1.31; 95% CI: 1.13 to 1.52). Associations were independent of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and non-HDL cholesterol, and extended to stroke and myocardial infarction. Lipidomic and proteomic profiles implicated these 3 very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL)-associated apolipoproteins in de novo lipogenesis, glucose metabolism, complement activation, blood coagulation, and inflammation. Notably, apoC-II/apoC-III/apoE correlated with a pattern of lipid species previously linked to CVD risk. ApoC-III inhibition by volanesorsen reduced plasma levels of apoC-II, apoC-III, triacylglycerols, and diacylglycerols, and increased apoA-I, apoA-II, and apoM (all p < 0.05 vs. placebo) without affecting apoB-100 (p = 0.73).

Conclusions: The strong associations of VLDL-associated apolipoproteins with incident CVD in the general community support the concept of targeting triacylglycerol-rich lipoproteins to reduce risk of CVD.

Keywords: lipidomics; mass spectrometry; proteomics; triglycerides.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Apolipoprotein C-III / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Apolipoproteins / blood*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lipoproteins, VLDL / blood*
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies


  • Apolipoprotein C-III
  • Apolipoproteins
  • Lipoproteins, VLDL