OBJECTIVE - While recent genomic studies have focused attention on triglyceride (TG) rich lipoproteins in cardiovascular disease (CVD), little is known of very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL-C) relationship with atherosclerosis and CVD. We examined, in a high-risk type-2 diabetic population, the association of plasma VLDL-C with coronary artery calcification (CAC).
METHODS - The Penn Diabetes Heart Study (PDHS) is a cross-sectional study of CVD risk factors in type-2 diabetics (n = 2118, mean age 59.1 years, 36.5% female, 34.1% Black). Plasma lipids including VLDL-C were calculated (n = 1879) after ultracentrifugation.
RESULTS - In Tobit regression, VLDL-C levels were positively associated with increasing CAC after adjusting for age, race, gender, Framingham risk score, body mass index, C-reactive protein, exercise, medication and alcohol use, hemoglobin A1c, and diabetes duration [Tobit ratio (TR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.38 (0.12-0.65), P = 0.005] and even after inclusion of apolipoprotein B data [TR 0.31 (0.03-0.58), P = 0.030]. Approximately 3-fold stronger effect was observed in women [TR 0.75 (0.16-1.34), P = 0.013] than men [TR 0.20 (-0.10-0.50), P = 0.189; gender interaction P = 0.034]. Plasma VLDL-C was related more strongly to CAC scores than TG levels (e.g., Akaike information criteria of 7263.65 vs. 7263.94) and had stronger CAC association in individuals with TGs >150 mg/dl (TR 0.80, P = 0.010) vs. those with TGs <150 mg/dl (TR 0.27, P = 0.185).
CONCLUSIONS - In PDHS, VLDL-C is associated with CAC independent of established CVD risk factors, particularly in women, and may have value even beyond apolipoprotein B levels and in patients with elevated TGs.
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