The effect of smoking on post-heparin lipoprotein and hepatic lipase, cholesteryl ester transfer protein and lecithin:cholesterol acyl transferase activities in human plasma

D J Freeman, M J Caslake, B A Griffin, J Hinnie, C E Tan, T D Watson, C J Packard, J Shepherd
European Journal of Clinical Investigation 1998, 28 (7): 584-91

INTRODUCTION: Smoking is associated with dyslipidaemia, particularly raised plasma triglycerides and reduced high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol and a delayed clearance of triglyceride in fat tolerance tests. The aim of this study was to investigate whether these phenomena could be explained by a reduced lipoprotein lipase activity in smokers.

METHODS: A group of 40 healthy individuals [plasma cholesterol 5.07 (SD 0.90) mmol L-1, plasma triglyceride 1.02 (SD 0.39) mmol L-1)] was studied to examine the effects of smoking on plasma enzyme activities, particularly post-heparin lipase activities. The group comprised 20 smokers and 20 non-smokers, who were matched for age, gender and body mass index (BMI).

RESULTS: Post-heparin lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity [3.89 (SD 1.58) vs. 5.85 (SD 2.30) mumol free fatty acids (FFA) mL-1 h-1, P < 0.005], but not post-heparin hepatic lipase (HL) activity, was reduced in smokers. Plasma cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) activity and lecithin: cholesterol acyl transferase (LCAT) activity were measured in a subgroup of 18 individuals, comprising nine smokers with nine matched non-smokers. There was no difference in CETP activities between two groups, but smokers had a significantly reduced plasma LCAT activity [112 (SD 23) vs. 152 (SD 24) nmol cholesterol mL-1 h-1, P < 0.005]. In both smokers (r=-0.53, P < 0.05) and non-smokers (r=-0.54, P < 0.05), HDL2 concentration was negatively associated with HL activity. In non-smokers, HDL3 concentration was negatively associated with CETP activity (r= -0.77, P < 0.05), whereas in smokers HDL3 concentration was negatively associated with LCAT activity (r= -0.78, P < 0.050).

CONCLUSION: It was shown by direct measurement that the activity of plasma post-heparin LPL is reduced in smokers, independently of age, gender and BMI. It is concluded that this enzyme perturbation associated with smoking may contribute to the development of the atherogenic lipoprotein phenotype seen in smokers.

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