Familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) predisposes children to the early initiation of atherosclerosis and is preferably diagnosed by DNA analysis. Yet, in many children with a clinical presentation of FH, no mutation is found. Adult data show that high levels of lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] may underlie a clinical presentation of FH, as the cholesterol content of Lp(a) is included in conventional LDL cholesterol measurements. As this is limited to adult data, Lp(a) levels in children with and without (clinical) FH were evaluated.

Methods and results
Children were eligible if they visited the paediatric lipid clinic (1989–2020) and if Lp(a) measurement and DNA analysis were performed. In total, 2721 children (mean age: 10.3 years) were included and divided into four groups: 1931 children with definite FH (mutation detected), 290 unaffected siblings/normolipidaemic controls (mutation excluded), 108 children with probable FH (clinical presentation, mutation not detected), and 392 children with probable non-FH (no clinical presentation, mutation not excluded). In children with probable FH, 32% were found to have high Lp(a) [geometric mean (95% confidence interval) of 15.9 (12.3–20.6) mg/dL] compared with 10 and 10% [geometric means (95% confidence interval) of 11.5 (10.9–12.1) mg/dL and 9.8 (8.4–11.3) mg/dL] in children with definite FH (P = 0.017) and unaffected siblings (P = 0.002), respectively.

Lp(a) was significantly higher and more frequently elevated in children with probable FH compared with children with definite FH and unaffected siblings, suggesting that high Lp(a) may underlie the clinical presentation of FH when no FH-causing mutation is found. Performing both DNA analysis and measuring Lp(a) in all children suspected of FH is recommended to assess possible LDL cholesterol overestimation related to increased Lp(a).
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Heart journal
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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