What Is Hypertriglyceridemia?

Hypertriglyceridemia (hTG) is a condition in which fasting blood triglyceride levels are elevated beyond normal limits.  This condition is often caused or made worse by obesity, uncontrolled diabetes, being sedentary, excessive alcohol intake and some medications.  There is also said to be a possible genetic link.  Most studies have found that hTG is a risk factor for coronary artery disease especially when HDL or good cholesterol is low and LDL or bad cholesterol is elevated.  Extremely high levels of triglycerides can also lead to acute pancreatitis (an inflammation of the pancreas).  Triglycerides are basically a type of fat in our blood.  They are made by the liver and are also ingested into the liver by the foods we eat.  Normal triglyceride levels should be lower then 150 mg/dL.  The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that the occurrence of hypertriglyceridemia in U.S. adults, age 20 years and up, was approximately 35 percent in men and 25 percent in women.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles discovered a key component in the processing of triglycerides. Results of their study were published in the July 2010 issue of Cell Metabolism.

  • Triglycerides are metabolized in the blood by enzymes called lipoprotein lipase (LPL).  If there is no LPL, triglycerides accumulate.
  • Scientists already knew that the LPL enzyme is produced in the fat and muscle before it makes its way into the blood vessels, what they didn’t know is how these enzymes made their way into the capillaries where it completes its tasks.
  • The study discovered a protein known as GPIHBP1 as the key to the transportation of the LPL enzyme into the capillaries.
  • They learned that mice that who were lacking the GPIHBP1 protein developed severe hypertriglyceridemia and that some people with high triglycerides have a mutation of this protein gene.
  • More is still yet to be understood and studied of how this process relates to dietary intake and other factors.  Once more research is done they are hoping these studies will lead to a better understanding of some of the causes of hypertriglyceridemia and ultimately more effective treatments.

Conclusions of this and other research studies may have a deeper impact on the treatment of obesity.  The scope for prevention of hypertriglyceridemia will also hopefully increase in the near future.  People that experience hypertriglyceridemia should receive initial evaluations and counseling.  Management of their condition should be determined based on the severity of their triglyceride levels as well as their lipid profiles and other health issues.


Hypertriglyceridemia: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/126568-overview

Management of Hypertriglyceridemia: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2007/0501/p1365.html

Hypertriglyceridemia: its etiology, effects and treatment: http://www.cmaj.ca/content/176/8/1113.full

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