To investigate the potential relationship between the cluster of metabolic abnormalities found in visceral obesity and the small dense LDL phenotype.


We have estimated LDL peak particle size by nondenaturing 2–16% gradient gel electrophoresis in a sample of 79 men. Glucose tolerance and fasting plasma insulin and lipoprotein levels were also measured.


The LDL particle score, calculated from migration, distances and relative band intensities and reflecting the proportion of small dense LDL particles, was positively correlated with plasma triglyceride (TG) (r = 0.60, P < 0.0001) and negatively correlated with HDL cholesterol (r = −0.56, P < 0.0001) levels. Although the LDL particle score was not associated with variations in plasma LDL cholesterol or LDL apolipoprotein (apo) B concentrations, it was significantly correlated with the LDL apo B–to–LDL cholesterol ratio (r = 0.60, P < 0.0001). Fasting plasma insulin and visceral adipose tissue (AT) areas measured by computed tomography were weakly but significantly correlated with the LDL particle score (r = 0.23 and 0.29, respectively, P < 0.05). LDL peak particle size showed similar but inverse correlations with anthropometric and metabolic variables. Subjects classified as having small dense LDL particles (by comparing subjects in the highest tertile versus those in the lowest tertile of the LDL particle score distribution) were characterized by increased plasma TG, reduced HDL cholesterol, higher fasting insulin levels, and elevated visceral AT accumulation. However, multiple regression analyses revealed that visceral AT accumulation was not an independent predictor of the dense LDL phenotype after inclusion of TG and HDL cholesterol levels and lipoprotein ratios in the model.


It thus appears that the high TG–low HDL cholesterol dyslipidemia frequently found in visceral obesity and in a hyperinsulinemic state is a strong correlate of the small dense LDL phenotype. Although associated with the dense LDL phenotype, visceral obesity and hyperinsulinemia were not independent predictors of an increased proportion of small dense LDL particles after controlling for TG and HDL cholesterol levels.

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