One important cardioprotective function of HDL is to remove cholesterol from lipid-laden macrophages in the artery wall. HDL also exerts anti-inflammatory effects that might inhibit atherogenesis. However, HDL has been proposed to be dysfunctional in humans with established coronary artery disease (CAD), though the underlying mechanisms are unclear. Therefore, we used mass spectrometry to investigate the roles of HDL proteins in inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Shotgun proteomic analysis identified multiple complement regulatory proteins, protease inhibitors, and acute-phase response proteins in HDL, strongly implicating the lipoprotein in inflammation and the innate immune system. Moreover, mass spectrometry and biochemical analyses demonstrated that HDL3 from subjects with clinically significant CAD was selectively enriched in apolipoprotein E, suggesting that it carries a distinctive protein cargo in humans with atherosclerosis. HDL from CAD subjects also contained markedly elevated levels of chlorotyrosine and nitrotyrosine, two characteristic products of myeloperoxidase, indicating that oxidative damage might generate dysfunctional HDL. Aggressive lipid therapy with a statin and niacin remodeled the HDL proteome to resemble that of apparently healthy subjects. Collectively, our observations indicate that quantifying the HDL proteome by mass spectrometry should help identify novel anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective actions of HDL and provide insights into lipid therapy
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