Pregnancy-associated plasma protein A (PAPP-A), a zinc-binding metalloproteinase that is secreted by activated macrophages, fibroblasts, vascular smooth muscle cells, osteoblasts, and placental syncytiotro-phoblasts, functions to activate insulin-like growth factor-1 (lGF-1) through actions on IGF-binding protein (IGF-BP). Although the role for PAPP-A as a biomarker for Down syndrome during pregnancy is well established, its potential role with respect to coronary atherosclerosis and ACS has only recently been recognized.
PAPP-A has been found in higher concentrations in unstable plaques from patients dying as a result of ACS. In addition, circulating levels of PAPP-A have been shown to be significantly higher in patients with unstable coronary syndromes versus stable angina.25 Furthermore, an elevated PAPP-A level was an independent predictor of a 6-month combined primary end point of cardiovascular events, including mortality, in a study of troponin I-negative patients presenting with ACS.26 Although the findings are quite preliminary, both PAPP-A and the ratio of PAPP-A to proMBP27 have correlated with extent of coronary atherosclerosis in stable angina.
Although PAPP-A may be present in the unstable plaque in ACS and in peripheral blood of patients with coronary atherosclerosis, its role remains undefined. Some have postulated that, through proteo-lytic breakdown of IGF-BP activating IGF-1, PAPP-A is able to mediate pro-atherogenic functions and may participate in local inflammatory processes.28 Conversely, IGF-1 may be protective in coronary and systemic vascular disease, and lower IGF-1 levels may actually predict adverse cardiac events.29 PAPP-A may simply be a marker of atherosclerotic disease and not directly involved in the pathogenesis.30 Although these possibilities remain intriguing, it is premature to advocate for the clinical use of PAPP-A in the absence of a proven, pertinent mechanism.
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