Objective: Elevated urine albumin excretion is an established risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Increased cardiovascular risk may be partly mediated by abnormalities in lipoprotein metabolism. We examined cross-sectional associations of urine albumin-creatinine ratio (ACR) with standard lipid measurements and with lipoprotein particle concentrations measured by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.
Methods and results: Among 5633 participants who were not using lipid-lowering medications, greater ACR was associated with greater triglyceride concentration and lesser high density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration (women only), but not with low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol calculated using conventional methods. In contrast, unadjusted mean small LDL particle concentrations measured by NMR were 770, 827 and 935 nmol/L for women (p<0.001) and 996, 1030 and 1040 nmol/L for men (p=0.037) among participants with normal, high normal and elevated ACR. Adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, diabetes, impaired fasting glucose, hypertension, smoking, medications, body mass index and serum creatinine, each two-fold greater ACR was associated with an increase in small LDL particle concentration of 27 nmol/L for women (p<0.001) and 14 nmol/L for men (p=0.008). Greater ACR was also associated with greater intermediate density lipoprotein particle concentration and smaller mean LDL particle size.
Conclusions: Mild elevations of urine ACR are associated with atherogenic lipoprotein abnormalities that are not directly observed with a standard lipid panel.