Chylomicronemia (severely high triglycerides) or Fredrickson type 1 dyslipidemia is a rare genetic illness caused mainly by lipoprotein lipase deficiency. Research has now identified also an acquired form of chylomicronemia.
Authors have found an autoimmune reaction to GPIHBP1, a protein necessary for proper functioning of lipoprotein lipase (LPL) enzyme. In a way, it is no surprise that systemic lupus was present in 3 of the 6 patients with GPIHBP1 autoantibodies.
Hopefully GPIHBP1 testing would be easily available and cost effective for clinical use.
N E J M
A protein that is expressed on capillary endothelial cells, called GPIHBP1 (glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored high-density lipoprotein binding protein 1), binds lipoprotein lipase and shuttles it to its site of action in the capillary lumen. A deficiency in GPIHBP1 prevents lipoprotein lipase from reaching the capillary lumen. Patients with GPIHBP1 deficiency have low plasma levels of lipoprotein lipase, impaired intravascular hydrolysis of triglycerides, and severe hypertriglyceridemia (chylomicronemia). During the characterization of a monoclonal antibody–based immunoassay for GPIHBP1, we encountered two plasma samples (both from patients with chylomicronemia) that contained an interfering substance that made it impossible to measure GPIHBP1. That finding raised the possibility that those samples might contain GPIHBP1 autoantibodies.
Using a combination of immunoassays, Western blot analyses, and immunocytochemical studies, we tested the two plasma samples (as well as samples from other patients with chylomicronemia) for the presence of GPIHBP1 autoantibodies. We also tested the ability of GPIHBP1 autoantibodies to block the binding of lipoprotein lipase to GPIHBP1.
We identified GPIHBP1 autoantibodies in six patients with chylomicronemia and found that these autoantibodies blocked the binding of lipoprotein lipase to GPIHBP1. As in patients with GPIHBP1 deficiency, those with GPIHBP1 autoantibodies had low plasma levels of lipoprotein lipase. Three of the six patients had systemic lupus erythematosus. One of these patients who had GPIHBP1 autoantibodies delivered a baby with plasma containing maternal GPIHBP1 autoantibodies; the infant had severe but transient chylomicronemia. Two of the patients with chylomicronemia and GPIHBP1 autoantibodies had a response to treatment with immunosuppressive agents.
In six patients with chylomicronemia, GPIHBP1 autoantibodies blocked the ability of GPIHBP1 to bind and transport lipoprotein lipase, thereby interfering with lipoprotein lipase–mediated processing of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins and causing severe hypertriglyceridemia.