Taiwanese female vegetarians have lower lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 compared with omnivores

Chih-Wei Chen, Chih-Ta Lin, Ying-Lung Lin, Tin-Kwang Lin, Chin-Lon Lin
Yonsei Medical Journal 2011, 52 (1): 13-9

PURPOSE: Many studies supported that vegetarians have a lower risk of cardiac diseases and mortality, partly due to better blood pressure and serum cholesterol profiles. However, the inflammatory markers, especially lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2), have not been well-studied. This study aimed to compare inflammatory markers and conventional risk factors between vegetarians and omnivores.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: One hundred and seventy-three vegetarians and 190 omnivores were studied. Fasting blood samples were obtained to compare levels of glucose, total cholesterol, triacylglycerol, high density lipoprotein (HDL) and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, homocysteine, Lp-PLA2 activity, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP).

RESULTS: Vegetarians had higher serum levels of the following markers: hs-CRP (1.8 ± 3.4 vs. 1.2 1.8 mg/L, respectively; p = 0.05), homocysteine (9.39 ± 3.22 vs. 7.62 ± 2.41 μmol/L, respectively; p < 0.01), and triacylglycerol (96.91 ± 59.56 vs. 84.66 ± 43.24 mg/dL, respectively; p < 0.05). Vegetarians also had lower levels of Lp-PLA2 (18.32 ± 7.19 10-3 μmol/min/mL vs. 20.22 8.13 10-3 μmol/min/mL; p < 0.05), total cholesterol (180.62 ± 36.55 mg/dL vs. 192.73 ± 36.57 mg/dL; p < 0.01), LDL cholesterol (118.15 ± 32.8 vs. 126.41 ± 34.28 mg/dL; p < 0.05), and HDL cholesterol (55.59 ± 13.30 vs. 62.09 ± 14.52 mg/dL, p < 0.01). Multivariate analyses demonstrated that a vegetarian diet increases the chances for high serum hs-CRP and low Lp-PLA2 activity.

CONCLUSION: In addition to lower total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and HDL-cholesterol, Taiwanese female vegetarians have lower serum Lp-PLA2 activity but higher levels of hs-CRP, homocysteine, and triacylglyerol. It might be due to geographic differences of vegetarian diets, and further studies are needed.

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