Production of small high-density lipoprotein particles after stimulation of in vivo lipolysis in hypertriglyceridemic individuals: studies before and after triglyceride-lowering therapy

Metabolism. 1998 Feb;47(2):234-42. doi: 10.1016/s0026-0495(98)90227-x.


In hypertriglyceridemic states, triglyceride enrichment of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) may play an important role in decreasing the HDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein (apo) A-1 plasma concentration. We have shown previously that HDL particles are transformed into small HDLs when lipolysis is stimulated in vivo or in vitro, and this process is more marked if the HDL is triglyceride-rich. The present study was conducted to determine whether the susceptibility of HDL to transformation can be altered by triglyceride-lowering therapy in humans. Seventeen moderately hypertriglyceridemic individuals (nine with type II diabetes mellitus and eight moderately hypertriglyceridemic nondiabetic subjects) were studied before and after 3 months of triglyceride-lowering therapy with gemfibrozil. Since no significant differences in postprandial and postheparin HDL metabolism were detected between type II diabetic and nondiabetic subjects, results are reported for the two groups combined (N = 17). Fasting HDL was triglyceride-rich with a preponderance of HDL3, and became more enriched with triglycerides postprandially. Heparin administration resulted in a rapid decrease in plasma and HDL triglycerides and an increase in plasma and HDL free fatty acids (FFAs). Postheparin, there was a reduction in HDL size and an increase in the proportion of small (HDL3c) HDL particles (HDL3c constituted 7.1% +/- 1.8% of total HDL preheparin and 26.6% +/- 3.8% postheparin, P < .001). Triglyceride-lowering treatment resulted in a decrease in fasting triglycerides (-54%, P < .001) and HDL triglyceride content (-36%, P = .002), an increase in fasting HDL cholesterol (19%, P = .004), and proportionately fewer (13.2% +/- 2.1%, P < .001) HDL3c particles formed postheparin. Postheparin HDL size correlated inversely with the fasting triglyceride level (r = -.55, P < .001) and HDL triglyceride concentration (r = -.34, P = .02). These results show that the postprandial increase in triglyceride levels in hypertriglyceridemic subjects is associated with increased production of small HDL particles when lipolysis is stimulated, and that lipid-lowering therapy can contribute to favorably reduce this postprandial production of small HDL particles. Further studies are needed to clarify how these abnormalities ultimately lead to a decrease of plasma HDL cholesterol and apo A-1 in hypertriglyceridemic states.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Gemfibrozil / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Hypertriglyceridemia / drug therapy
  • Hypertriglyceridemia / metabolism*
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Lipolysis*
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Hypolipidemic Agents
  • Lipoproteins, HDL
  • Gemfibrozil