Relation of cholesterol and lipoprotein parameters with carotid artery plaque characteristics: The atherosclerosis risk in communities (ARIC) carotid MRI study

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Objective: There is a paucity of data regarding relations of apolipoproteins (apolipoprotein B [ApoB] and apolipoprotein A-1 [Apo A-1]), lipoprotein particle measures (low-density lipoprotein particle concentration [LDLp] and high-density lipoprotein particle concentration [HDLp]), and lipoprotein cholesterol measures (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol [LDL-C], non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol [non-HDL-C], and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol [HDL-C]) with atherosclerotic plaque burden, plaque eccentricity, and lipid-rich core presence as a marker of high-risk plaques.
Methods: Carotid artery magnetic resonance imaging was performed in 1670 Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study participants. Vessel wall and lipid cores were measured; normalized wall index (NWI), standard deviation (SD) of wall thickness (measure of plaque eccentricity) were calculated; and lipid cores were detected in vessels with ≥ 1.5mm thickness. Fasting concentrations of cholesterol, ApoB and Apo A-1, and LDLp and HDLp were measured.
Results: Measures of plaque burden (carotid wall volume, wall thickness, and NWI) were positively associated with atherogenic cholesterol and lipoproteins (p < 0.05 for total cholesterol, LDL-C, non-HDL-C, ApoB, and LDLp), but not with HDL-C, Apo A-1, or HDLp. SD of wall thickness was associated with total cholesterol (p 0.01) and non-HDL-C (p 0.02). Although measures of atherogenic or anti-atherogenic cholesterol or lipoprotein were not individually associated with detection of a lipid-rich core, their ratios (total cholesterol/HDL-C, non-HDL-C/HDL-C, and LDLp/HDLp) were associated with lipid-rich core presence (p ≤ 0.05).
Conclusion: Extent of carotid atherosclerosis is associated with atherogenic cholesterol and lipoproteins. Atherogenic/anti-atherogenic cholesterol or particle ratios were associated with presence of a detectable lipid-rich core.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.