The aim of the present study was to delineate the mechanism(s) responsible for the increased secretion of VLDL (very-low-density lipoprotein) particles in patients with FCH (familial combined hyperlipidaemia). In 194 young adults (<25 years of age) recruited from families with FCH, we investigated how plasma lipids, (apo)lipoproteins and BMI (body mass index) varied with age. Furthermore, we performed a 5-year follow-up study of clinical and biochemical characteristics of a subset of this population (n=85) stratified by apoB (apolipoprotein B) levels (below or above the 75th percentile adjusted for age and gender). Plasma apoB concentration (r=0.45, P<0.0001), triacylglycerol (triglyceride) concentration (r=0.45, P<0.0001), LDL (low-density lipoprotein) subfraction profile (r=−0.46, P<0.0001) and BMI (r=0.51, P<0.0001) were significantly associated with age. Plasma apoB concentration in the hyperapoB group was already elevated at a young age, whereas other characteristics of FCH, as observed in adults, including triacylglycerol levels >1.5 mmol/l and/or small-dense LDL, were observed only sporadically. After the 5-year follow-up, BMI increased in both groups, and this increase was associated with changes in apoB (r=0.27, P<0.05), triacylglycerol (r=0.30, P<0.01), VLDL cholesterol (r=0.22, P<0.05), VLDL triacylglycerol (r=0.25, P<0.05) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (r=−0.27, P<0.05). In conclusion, we have found indirect evidence of a primary, presumably genetically determined, increase in plasma apoB concentration occurring early in life of offspring from families with FCH. However, aging-related post-maturation increases in adipose tissue mass also appear to contribute to an aggravation and/or modulation of this genetically determined apoB overproduction.

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