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Clin Cornerstone. 2005;7(2-3):27-35.

The metabolic basis of atherogenic dyslipidemia.

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  • The Leonard R. Strelitz Diabetes Research Institute, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk 23510, USA. vinikai@evms.edu


Atherogenic dyslipidemia is one of the major components of the metabolic syndrome, a complex cluster of several risk factors within a single patient that according to the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Adult Treatment Panel III includes at least 3 of the following: large waist circumference, elevated triglyceride levels, low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), hypertension, and elevated fasting glucose levels, which are directly related to the incidence of coronary heart disease. Atherogenic dyslipidemia clinically presents as elevated serum triglyceride levels, increased levels of small dense low-density lipoprotein (sdLDL) particles, and decreased levels of HDL-C. An important component of atherogenic dyslipidemia is central obesity, which is defined as increased waist circumference and has recently been identified as a chief predictor of the metabolic syndrome in certain patients. Another recent study found that both body mass index and waist circumference were highly predictive of eventual development of the metabolic syndrome. Because atherogenic dyslipidemia usually precedes the clinical manifestation of the metabolic syndrome, strategies to treat it are the focus of pharmacologic intervention. For example, the 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme-A reductase inhibitors, commonly known as statins, benefit hypercholesterolemic patients who have atherogenic dyslipidemia that is associated with the metabolic syndrome. Pioglitazone, an antidiabetic agent that acts primarily by decreasing insulin resistance, improves sensitivity to insulin in muscle and adipose tissue and inhibits hepatic gluconeogenesis. Pioglitazone improves glycemic control while reducing circulating insulin levels. The investigational agent, rimonabant--a centrally and peripherally acting, selective cannabinoid type-1 receptor blocker--is the first therapy developed for managing several cardiovascular risk factors at one time. Rimonabant has shown promise in attacking atherogenic dyslipidemia from several vantage points by affecting glucose, HDL-C, triglycerides, and waist circumference in patients who are prone to atherogenic dyslipidemia.

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