Familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) is associated with premature coronary heart disease (CHD). Post-prandial hypertriglyceridaemia has also been associated with cardiovascular disease. Thus, an abnormal post-prandial triglyceride (TG) clearance may contribute to the heterogeneity in the risk of CHD in heterozygous (h) FH. Therefore, we investigated the response of TG levels to a fatty meal in men with hFH.
We studied 26 Greek men divided into two groups: the hFH group of 14 men, mean age 39 (SD = 11) years and the control group of 12 healthy men, mean age 43 (50:5) years. An increased TG response to the fatty meal was defined as a post-prandial TG concentration (at 4, 6 or 8 h) greater than the highest TG concentration in any hour in any control individual.
All hFH patients had normal baseline fasting TG levels. However, seven hFH men showed an abnormal TG response after the fatty meal; these patients had higher baseline fasting TG levels than others [1.5 (0.2) vs. 1.0 (0.4) mmol/l, p = 0.005].
The hFH men constituted a heterogeneous group regarding their TG response to the fatty meal compared with healthy men because 50% with higher, but nevertheless ‘normal’ basal TG levels, had an abnormal post-prandial TG response. The reduced activity of low-density lipoprotein receptors in hFH together with other defects in TG handling may explain the abnormal rise of TG levels post-prandially.