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Objective: When compared with other ethnic groups, African ancestry individuals have lower triglycerides and higher High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels, although the mechanisms for these differences remain unclear. A comprehensive array of factors potentially related to fasting serum lipid and lipoprotein levels in African ancestry men was evaluated.

Design and Methods: Men (1,821) underwent dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry measures of total body fat and quantitative computed tomography assessments of calf skeletal muscle adiposity [subcutaneous and intermuscular adipose tissue (AT), and muscle density as a measure of intra-muscular AT].

Results: Multivariable linear regression analysis identified age (−), total body fat (+), subcutaneous AT (−), fasting glucose (+), fasting insulin (+), diastolic blood pressure (+), and non-African ancestry (+) as independent correlates of triglycerides (all P < 0.05). Total body fat (+), intra-muscular AT (−), and diastolic blood pressure (+) were independent correlates of Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) (all P < 0.001). Age (+), waist circumference (−), fasting insulin (−), physical activity (+), and alcohol intake (+) were independent correlates of HDL-C (all P < 0.05).

Conclusions: A novel relationship between skeletal muscle adiposity and serum lipid and lipoprotein levels in African ancestry men, independent of total and central adiposity was illuminated. In African ancestry populations, genetic factors are likely a significant determinant of triglycerides levels.