The associations between p,p'-DDE levels and plasma levels of lipoproteins and their subclasses in an elderly population determined by analysis of lipoprotein content

Lipids Health Dis. 2020 Dec 7;19(1):249. doi: 10.1186/s12944-020-01417-1.


Background: Lipoproteins at aberrant levels are known to play a role in cardiovascular disease. The metabolite of the insecticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), p,p'-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (p,p'-DDE), physically associates with lipids and accumulates in adipose tissue. Little is known about which lipoproteins associate with p,p'-DDE. An association between p,p'-DDE exposure and altered levels of circulating lipids was assessed in a large human cohort using a detailed analysis of lipoprotein content.

Methods: Plasma samples were collected from the subset of 75-year old Swedes in the Prospective Investigation of the Vasculature of Uppsala Seniors (PIVUS) cohort who were not prescribed lipid lowering medication (n = 571). p,p'-DDE concentrations in plasma were measured using high-throughput solid phase extraction and gas chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry. Analysis of plasma lipoprotein content was performed with nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

Results: Detectable levels of p,p'-DDE were found in the plasma samples of all subjects. Elevated p,p'-DDE levels were associated with increased concentrations of lipoproteins of all diameters, with the exception of high density lipoprotein (HDL) of diameters between 14.3 nm-10.9 nm. Of the lipoprotein constituents, triglycerides were most uniformly associated with elevated p,p'-DDE across lipoproteins. p,p'-DDE was furthermore associated with apolipoprotein B, but not apolipoprotein A1.

Conclusions: The positive associations observed between each lipoprotein class and elevated p,p'-DDE support previous data suggesting that p,p'-DDE interacts with lipoproteins within plasma. It is speculated that both physio-chemical and biological mechanisms may explain why p,p'-DDE does not uniformly associate with lipids across lipoproteins.

Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; Cholesterol; Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene; Lipoprotein; Persistent organic pollutants; Phospholipids; Triglycerides.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Apolipoprotein A-I / blood
  • Apolipoprotein B-100 / blood
  • DDT / adverse effects*
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / adverse effects*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Lipoproteins / blood*
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / blood
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden / epidemiology


  • APOA1 protein, human
  • APOB protein, human
  • Apolipoprotein A-I
  • Apolipoprotein B-100
  • Insecticides
  • Lipids
  • Lipoproteins
  • Lipoproteins, HDL
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene
  • DDT