Patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) have a significantly increased risk of macrovascular disease, particularly if they have persistent proteinuria. To determine whether altered levels of apolipoprotein(a) [apo(a)], the plasminogenlike glycoprotein of the potentially atherogenic lipoprotein(a); contribute to the increased risk of atherosclerosis, apo(a) levels were measured in 107 patients with IDDM and compared with nondiabetic control subjects and male elective coronary artery graft patients. Apo(a) levels were increased in diabetic patients with microalbuminuria (geometric mean 245 U/L, 95% confidence interval [CI] 142–427, n = 30) and albuminuria (mean 196 U/L, 95% CI 97–397, n = 18) with levels comparable to patients with coronary artery disease (mean 193 U/L, 95% CI 126–298, n = 40), which were higher than in the control group (mean 107 U/L, 95% CI 85–134, n = 140; P = 0.016). Apo(a) levels in diabetic patients without microalbuminuria (mean 86 U/L, 95% CI 63–116, n = 59) were comparable with the control population and less than in those with microalbuminuria (P < 0.001) and albuminuria (P = 0.014). The elevated apo(a) levels found in patients with IDDM and increased urinary albumin loss may contribute to their heightened risk of macrovascular disease.

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