Pathophysiology of diabetic dyslipidaemia: where are we?

Diabetologia. 2015 May;58(5):886-99. doi: 10.1007/s00125-015-3525-8. Epub 2015 Mar 1.


Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, with a two- to fourfold increase in cardiovascular disease risk compared with non-diabetic individuals. Abnormalities in lipid metabolism that are observed in the context of type 2 diabetes are among the major factors contributing to an increased cardiovascular risk. Diabetic dyslipidaemia includes not only quantitative lipoprotein abnormalities, but also qualitative and kinetic abnormalities that, together, result in a shift towards a more atherogenic lipid profile. The primary quantitative lipoprotein abnormalities are increased triacylglycerol (triglyceride) levels and decreased HDL-cholesterol levels. Qualitative lipoprotein abnormalities include an increase in large, very low-density lipoprotein subfraction 1 (VLDL1) and small, dense LDLs, as well as increased triacylglycerol content of LDL and HDL, glycation of apolipoproteins and increased susceptibility of LDL to oxidation. The main kinetic abnormalities are increased VLDL1 production, decreased VLDL catabolism and increased HDL catabolism. In addition, even though LDL-cholesterol levels are typically normal in patients with type 2 diabetes, LDL particles show reduced turnover, which is potentially atherogenic. Although the pathophysiology of diabetic dyslipidaemia is not fully understood, the insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency observed in patients with type 2 diabetes are likely to contribute to these lipid changes, as insulin plays an important role in regulating lipid metabolism. In addition, some adipocytokines, such as adiponectin or retinol-binding protein 4, may also contribute to the development of dyslipidaemia in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology*
  • Dyslipidemias / blood
  • Dyslipidemias / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood*


  • Lipids