Objective: The immune response is linked to the progression of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD). Free autoantibodies targeting ApoA-I (apolipoprotein A-I) have been identified as a component of the inflammatory milieu in patients and have a moderate association with CVD progression. Based on the presence of these antibodies and the high concentration of circulating ApoA-I, we hypothesized that antibodies bound to ApoA-I as an immune complex would be predictive of incident adverse CVD outcomes. Approach and Results: The presence of ApoA-I/IgG immune complexes (ICs) in plasma was confirmed by ELISA in 3 subject cohorts. Characterization of the protein components of ApoAI/IgG ICs indicate that ICs are not correlated with total ApoA-I concentration and are enriched in the anti-inflammatory subclass, IgG4, relative to total plasma IgG (>30% versus 6%). In 359 patients with coronary artery disease (CAD), there were 71 incident adverse CVD events (death, myocardial infarction, and stroke) during a median 4.1-year follow-up. In Cox proportional hazard regression analysis, low levels of ApoA-I/IgG ICs were independent predictors of adverse cardiovascular outcomes after adjustment for age, sex, diabetes mellitus, estimated glomerular filtration rate, presence of obstructive CAD, heart failure, total cholesterol, and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol (adjusted hazard ratio of 1.90 [95% CI, 1.03-3.49; P=0.038] between the lowest and the highest tertiles).
Conclusions: Low levels of ApoA-I/IgG ICs are associated with an increased risk of adverse events in patients with CAD, raising their potential to be used as a biomarker to predict CVD progression.
Keywords: antibodies; apolipoprotein A-I; autoantibodies; cardiovascular disease; immunoglobulin G.