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Lipids. 2008 Apr;43(4):353-60. doi: 10.1007/s11745-008-3159-4. Epub 2008 Mar 5.

Delayed metabolism of postprandial triglyceride-rich lipoproteins in subjects with echolucent carotid plaques.

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Center for Atherothrombotic Research in Tromsø, Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Tromsø, 9037, Tromsø, Norway.


Subjects with echolucent carotid plaques have an increased risk of ischemic cerebrovascular events independent of degree of stenosis. Low plasma lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity promotes a proatherogenic lipid profile, and delayed chylomicron clearance is a risk factor for atherosclerosis. This study was conducted to determine plasma LPL activity and postprandial metabolism of triglycerides in relation to carotid plaque morphology. Plaque echogenicity was assessed by B-mode ultrasound and analysis of the grey scale median (GSM). Echolucent plaques were defined as GSM < or = 63 (the median) and echogenic plaques as GSM > 63, and 57 subjects with carotid plaques and 38 subjects without carotid plaques were recruited. Blood samples were collected before and at 2-h interval for 8 h after a standard high fat meal. LPL activity and mass was determined before and after heparin administration. Postheparin LPL activity was decreased in subjects with echolucent plaques compared to subjects with echogenic plaques (P = 0.06) and to controls (P = 0.04). Plaque echogenicity increased linearly with increasing levels of postheparin LPL activity (P = 0.02) and mass (P = 0.03). Subjects with echolucent plaques had delayed postprandial clearance of chylomicron triglycerides compared to controls (P = 0.04). Low postheparin LPL activity due to attenuated mobilization of LPL from capillary endothelium may play an important role in the formation of echolucent plaques by modulation of postprandial lipids and subsequent fat accumulation in the arterial wall.

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