Objective: The potential of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) to facilitate cholesterol removal from arterial foam cells is a key function of HDL. We studied whether cholesterol efflux to serum and HDL subfractions is impaired in subjects with early coronary heart disease (CHD) or metabolic syndrome (MetS) in families where a low HDL-cholesterol level (HDL-C) predisposes to early CHD.
Methods: HDL subfractions were isolated from plasma by sequential ultracentrifugation. THP-1 mac-rophages loaded with acetyl-LDL were used in the assay of cholesterol efflux to total HDL, HDL2, HDL3 or serum.
Results: While cholesterol efflux to serum, total HDL and HDL3 was unchanged, the efflux to HDL2 was 14% lower in subjects with MetS than in subjects without MetS (p<0.001). The efflux to HDL2 was associated with components of MetS such as plasma HDL-C (r = 0.76 in men and r = 0.56 in women, p<0.001 for both). The efflux to HDL2 was reduced in men with early CHD (p<0.01) only in conjunction with their low HDL-C. The phospholipid content of HDL2 particles was a major correlate with the efflux to HDL2 (r = 0.70, p<0.001). A low ratio of HDL2 to total HDL was associated with MetS (p>0.001).
Conclusion: Our results indicate that impaired efflux to HDL2 is a functional feature of the low HDL-C state and MetS in families where these risk factors predispose to early CHD. The efflux to HDL2 related to the phospholipid content of HDL2 particles but the phospholipid content did not account for the impaired efflux in cardiometabolic disease, where a combination of low level and poor quality of HDL2 was observed.