Biomedical consequences of elevated cholesterol-containing lipoproteins and apolipoproteins on cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular outcomes

Amand F. Schmidt*, Roshni Joshi, Maria Gordillo-Maranon, Fotios Drenos, Pimphen Charoen, Claudia Giambartolomei, Joshua C. Bis, Tom R Gaunt, Alun D. Hughes, Deborah A. Lawlor, Andrew Wong, Jackie F. Price, Nishi Chaturvedi, Goya Wannamethee, Nora Franceschini, Mika Kivimaki, Aroon D. Hingorani, Chris Finan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

BACKGROUND: Higher concentrations of cholesterol-containing low-density lipoprotein (LDL-C) increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The association of LDL-C with non-CVD traits remains unclear, as are the possible independent contributions of other cholesterol-containing lipoproteins and apolipoproteins.

METHODS: Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to measure the cholesterol content of high density (HDL-C), very low-density (VLDL-C), intermediate-density (IDL-C), as well as low-density lipoprotein fractions, the apolipoproteins Apo-A1 and Apo-B, as well as total triglycerides (TG), remnant-cholesterol (Rem-Chol) and total cholesterol (TC). The causal effects of these exposures were assessed against 33 outcomes using univariable and multivariable Mendelian randomization (MR).

RESULTS: The majority of cholesterol containing lipoproteins and apolipoproteins affect coronary heart disease (CHD), carotid intima-media thickness, carotid plaque, C-reactive protein (CRP) and blood pressure. Multivariable MR indicated that many of these effects act independently of HDL-C, LDL-C and TG, the most frequently measured lipid fractions. Higher concentrations of TG, VLDL-C, Rem-Chol and Apo-B increased heart failure (HF) risk; often independently of LDL-C, HDL-C or TG. Finally, a subset of these exposures associated with non-CVD traits such as Alzheimer's disease (AD: HDL-C, LDL-C, IDL-C, Apo-B), type 2 diabetes (T2DM: VLDL-C, IDL-C, LDL-C), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD: LDL-C, IDL-C).

CONCLUSIONS: The cholesterol content of a wide range of lipoprotein and apolipoproteins associate with measures of atherosclerosis, blood pressure, CRP, and CHD, with a subset affecting HF, T2DM, AD and IBD risk. Many of the observed effects appear to act independently of LDL-C, HDL-C, and TG, supporting the targeting of lipid fractions beyond LDL-C for disease prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Number of pages10
JournalCommunications Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2023


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