OBJECTIVE: Serum triglyceride levels are important in the development of atherosclerosis. Although triglyceride levels are generally increased in the postprandial periods, the association between postprandial triglyceride (pTG) levels and atherosclerosis has not been investigated in diabetic patients. To investigate the role of pTG levels in atherosclerosis, we examined the correlation between pTG levels and carotid intimal-medial thickness (IMT). RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Carotid IMT was measured by ultrasonography in 61 patients with type 2 diabetes. Plasma glucose (PG), insulin, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and HDL cholesterol levels were measured after overnight fasting and 4 h after a meal. RESULTS: Carotid IMT of the patients with fasting hypertriglyceridemia was greater than that of the patients with normal fasting triglyceride (fTG) levels (0.85+/-0.12 vs. 0.76+/-0.14 mm; P = 0.02). The carotid IMT was increased in the patients with pTG levels >2.27 mmol/l. The normo-normo (NN) and normo-hyper (NH) groups consisted of patients with normal fTG levels but with pTG levels <2.27 and >2.27 mmol/l, respectively. Patients with both hypertriglyceridemia and pTG levels >2.27 mmol/l formed the hyper-hyper (HH) group. Carotid IMT was significantly increased in the NH (0.86+/-0.13 mm) and HH (0.85+/-0.12 mm) groups compared with the NN group (0.73+/-0.13 mm; P<0.01). Although postprandial PG, pTG, and fasting LDL cholesterol levels were all independently correlated with carotid IMT, pTG levels had the strongest statistical influence (P = 0.002). CONCLUSIONS: Postprandial hypertriglyceridemia despite normal fTG levels may be an independent risk factor for early atherosclerosis in type 2 diabetes.

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