1. Changes in serum total and lipoprotein fraction triglyceride and cholesterol levels were studied in 24 adults on home haemodialysis. Half the patients were randomly allocated to a low cholesterol (mean 200 mg/day), fat-modified diet (mean polyunsaturated/saturated fat ratio of 1.0 with a mean of 43% of the total energy content derived from fat).
2. Before dietary manipulation, triglyceride levels in all lipoprotein fractions were significantly higher (P < 0.02) than in a control group of age and sex matched normal subjects. Total cholesterol, very-low-density-lipoprotein (VLDL) and low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol were also significantly raised (P < 0.02), but high-density-lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol was normal. In the patients on a fat-modified diet triglyceride levels did not alter in any of the lipoprotein fractions. Total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels fell significantly into the normal range (P < 0.002 and < 0.001 respectively) but VLDL and HDL cholesterol levels did not change.
3. Hypertriglyceridaemia is the most common lipid abnormality in patients with renal failure and a long-term fat-modified diet is, therefore, of limited therapeutic importance in these patients unless there is a low HDL/LDL cholesterol ratio.