Objectives: Hypothetically the atherogenic effect of the metabolic syndrome may be mediated through the increased occurrence of small LDL-particles which are easily modified to atherogenic oxidized LDL (ox-LDL). The aim of this study was to test this concept by examining the association between circulating ox-LDL, LDL-particle size, and the metabolic syndrome.
Design and results: A population-based sample of clinically healthy 58-year-old men (n = 391) was recruited. Ox-LDL was measured by ELISA (specific monoclonal antibody, mAb-4E6) and LDL-particle size by gradient gel electrophoresis. The results showed that ox-LDL significantly correlated to factors constituting the metabolic syndrome; triglycerides (r = 0.43), plasma insulin (r = 0.20), body mass index (r = 0.20), waist-to-hip ratio (r = 0.21) and HDL (r = -0.24); (P < 0.001). Ox-LDL correlated also to LDL-particle size (r = -0.42), Apo-B (r = 0.70), LDL (r = 0.65); (P < 0.001) and, furthermore, with Apo A-1 (r = -0.13) and heart rate (r = 0.13); (P < 0.01).
Conclusion: The metabolic syndrome was accompanied by high plasma ox-LDL concentrations compared with those without the syndrome. Ox-LDL levels were associated with most of the risk factors constituting the metabolic syndrome and was, in addition related to small LDL-particle size. To our knowledge the present study is the first one to demonstrate that circulating ox-LDL levels are associated with small LDL-particle size in a population representative sample of clinically healthy middle-aged men. The high degree of intercorrelation amongst several factors makes it difficult to clarify the independent role of any specific factor.