Effect of obesity on the plasma lipoprotein subclass profile in normoglycemic and normolipidemic men and women

F. Magkos, B. S. Mohammed, B. Mittendorfer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

66 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the effect of obesity without the confounding effect of metabolic complications on the lipoprotein subclass profile in men and women. Design: Cross-sectional study. Subjects: A total of 40 lean (body mass index (BMI): 18.5-25 kg/m2) and 40 obese (BMI: 30-45 kg/m 2) subjects, with blood pressure <140/90 mm Hg, fasting plasma glucose concentration <100 mg per 100 ml and total triglyceride concentration <150 mg per 100 ml; all obese subjects had normal oral glucose tolerance. Measurements: Fasting concentrations of very low-, intermediate-, low- and high-density lipoproteins (VLDL, IDL, LDL, and HDL, respectively) and average VLDL, LDL and HDL particle sizes were evaluated by using proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Results: Obese compared with lean individuals of both sexes had increased plasma concentrations of VLDL (by ∼50%), IDL (by ∼100%), LDL (by ∼50%), and to some extent HDL (by ∼10%) particles (P<0.05). The contribution of large VLDL to total VLDL concentration, small LDL to total LDL concentration, and small HDL to total HDL concentration was greater in obese than lean subjects (P<0.05), resulting in larger average VLDL size but smaller average LDL and HDL sizes (P<0.05). Women, compared with men, had reduced concentrations of total VLDL particles (by ∼10%) due to lower concentrations of large and medium VLDL and a shift toward large at the expense of small HDL particles (P<0.05), with no difference in total HDL particle concentration. IDL and total LDL concentrations and LDL subclass distribution were not different between men and women. Conclusion: Obesity is associated with pro-atherogenic alterations in the lipoprotein subclass profile, which may increase cardiovascular disease risk even in the absence of classical metabolic risk factors. On the other hand, the female cardiovascular disease risk advantage is probably largely related to differences in traditional lipid risk factors (plasma triglyceride and HDL-cholesterol concentrations) because sex differences in the plasma lipoprotein subclass profile are minimal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1655-1664
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2008


  • Lipid profile
  • Lipoprotein
  • NMR
  • Particle size
  • Sex differences
  • Subfractions

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