Methods: Serum lipoprotein profiles in 4,231 individuals, ages 5-26 years, were studied cross-sectionally in a biracial community to describe the race- and gender-specific changes from adolescence into young adulthood.
Results: White children and adolescents of both genders showed significantly higher covariates--adjusted triglycerides (9-11 mg/dl) and very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (1-2 mg/dl)--and lower total cholesterol (3-14 mg/dl) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (6-10 mg/dl) levels than their black counterparts. These black-white differences persisted among young adults of both genders with the exception of total cholesterol levels (higher triglycerides: 23-32 mg/dl; higher very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol: 5-7 mg/dl; lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol: 9-11 mg/dl); in addition, white young adult males began to show higher levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (14 mg/dl) than black young adult males. A consistent gender-related pattern emerged only among white young adults with males showing higher triglyceride levels (22 mg/dl), very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (5 mg/dl), and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (10 mg/dl) and lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (10 mg/dl) than females. Lipoprotein changes from adolescence into young adulthood were more pronounced among white males than other race-gender groups, resulting in higher triglyceride, very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, a higher total cholesterol/high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio, and a lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in their young adulthood. According to the National Cholesterol Education Program criteria, a relatively higher proportion of young adult white males was classified as borderline-high (22.6%) or high (9.1%) for low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Adiposity was the major contributor to the adverse lipoprotein pattern, especially among white males. Sexual maturation and age influenced the lipoprotein levels to a greater extent among white males. Cigarette smoking, alcohol intake, and oral contraceptive use began to emerge as minor but significant factors contributing to the lipoprotein levels in adolescents and young adults.
Conclusion: These results underscore the desirability of early targeting for primary prevention.