1. Platelet-activating factor is inactivated in plasma by the action of a specific acetylhydrolase that cleaves the acetate moiety from the sn-2 position. Degradation was determined under optimized conditions and under conditions closer to those which may occur in vivo. The latter, or platelet-activating factor half-life, was measured by a modified method that is simple, inexpensive and reliable.
2. A hyperbolic relationship was found to exist between the two measures of degradation, the values in both normal subjects and patients with coronary artery disease falling on the tail of the hyperbola. Thus, there is an increase in platelet-activating factor half-life associated with a lowering of acetylhydrolase activity, but this increase is relatively small.
3. There were significant direct linear relationships between acetylhydrolase activity and serum total cholesterol and low-density-lipoprotein-cholesterol concentrations in both subject groups. Although acetylhydrolase activity was most closely associated with the low-density-lipoprotein-cholesterol fraction, the activity for a given serum level of low-density-lipoprotein-cholesterol was higher in patients with coronary artery disease.