Atherogenic Lipoprotein Subfractions and Carotid Atherosclerosis in Menopausal Women

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The aim of the study was to evaluate the relationship between cholesterol contained in very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL-C), intermediate-density lipoproteins (IDL-C), low-density lipoproteins, high-density lipoproteins, and carotid intima–media thickness (cIMT) and carotid plaques in 228 postmenopausal women (63.1 ± 8.2 years) who participated in the ATENA Project and underwent clinical, biochemical (including the assay of lipoproteins using the Lipoprint system), and carotid ultrasound tests. Very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol had a statistically significant linear association with cIMT (P < .001), which remained significant after adjustment for age, smoking, systolic blood pressure, glucose, and body mass index (r2 = .20, P < .05). Higher concentrations of IDL-C and cholesterol contained in triglyceride-rich lipoproteins (TRL-C, ie, VLDL-C + IDL-C) were associated with plaques in the common carotid (tertile III/tertile I: odds ratio [OR] = 2.52, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.21-5.32, P < .02; OR = 2.30, 95% CI = 1.05-5.01, P < .05, respectively), after adjustment for main cardiovascular risk factors. In conclusion, high concentrations of VLDL-C and TRL-C are independently associated with the presence of carotid plaques. Their assay represents a useful tool for improving our knowledge on the role of different classes of lipoproteins in atherosclerosis.

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