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Clin Chem. 1990 Jan;36(1):36-42.

Calculated values for low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the assessment of lipid abnormalities and coronary disease risk.

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Lipid Metabolism Laboratory, USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111.


Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol concentrations are most commonly estimated by the formula LDL cholesterol = total cholesterol - [triglycerides (TG)/5 + high-density lipoprotein cholesterol], although alternative factors such as TG/6 have also been used. Using standardized, automated, enzymatic lipid assays, we analyzed 4797 plasma samples from normal and dyslipidemic adults, to compare LDL cholesterol concentrations obtained after ultracentrifugation with those calculated by several such methods (i.e., TG/4-TG/8). or TG concentrations less than or equal to 0.50 g/L, TG/4 agreed best with the direct assay; for TG of 0.51-2.00 g/L, TG/4.5 was best; and for TG of 2.01-4.00 g/L, TG/5 was best. Differences in estimated values were generally small, however. At TG greater than 4.00 g/L, none of the factors tested allowed a reliable estimate of LDL cholesterol. When TG were less than or equal to 4.00 g/L, 86% of estimated LDL cholesterol values were properly classified according to National Cholesterol Education Program cutpoints when the factor TG/5 was used. We conclude that a convenient direct method for measuring LDL cholesterol is needed but, until one is available, use of the factor TG/5 will assure that most individuals with TG less than or equal to 4.00 g/L, as measured in a standardized laboratory, can be reasonably well classified for risk of coronary artery disease.

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