Background and methods: Patients with the nephrotic syndrome characteristically have multiple abnormalities of lipoprotein metabolism, but the cause and exact nature of these abnormalities are uncertain. In this study, we measured serum lipids and apoproteins in 57 patients with the nephrotic syndrome. We also determined the kinetic indexes of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) metabolism in six patients, and again in three of the six after recovery.
Results: The patients with the nephrotic syndrome had elevated serum concentrations of cholesterol, triglycerides, and phospholipids, which were confined to the lipoproteins containing apoprotein B. The serum concentrations of high-density lipoproteins and the associated A-I and A-II apoproteins were similar in the patients with the nephrotic syndrome and normal subjects. The relative proportions of lipids and their positive association with the increased serum concentrations of apoproteins B, C-II, C-III, and E suggest quantitative rather than qualitative differences in the lipoproteins. All the patients had lipiduria, which probably reflected the excretion of high-density lipoproteins, although no intact immunoreactive apoprotein A-I was found in urine. Serum albumin concentrations were inversely related to serum lipid concentrations in the patients, the severity of the hypoalbuminemia corresponding to the degree of change in serum lipoprotein concentrations. The kinetic studies of lipoprotein metabolism revealed an overproduction of LDL apoprotein B that returned to normal after recovery.
Conclusions: The elevated serum concentrations of LDL cholesterol, other lipids, and apoprotein B in patients with uncomplicated nephrotic syndrome are due to reversible increases in lipoprotein production.