The protective qualities associated with higher levels of the high-density lipoprotein cholesterol subfractions HDL3-chol and HDL2-chol in reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease were found in lower concentrations in patients, particularly women, with rheumatoid arthritis, according to study results.
Researchers conducted a cross-sectional study that compared 45 consecutive patients (32 women) with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and a mean age of 60 years with a control group of 45 healthy individuals (32 women; mean age 55 years). None of the participants had a history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes or used a lipid-lowering drug. Nonfasting blood samples were collected and researchers analyzed HDL2-chol and HDL3-chol concentrations by regression modeling to compare high-density lipoprotein (HDL) subfractions between RA patients and the healthy controls.
HDL2-chol (P=.01) and HDL3-chol (P=.005) subfractions were significantly reduced in the RA patients compared with the control group. HDL2-chol concentrations showed a larger difference between RA and control groups compared with HDL3-chol, resulting in an HDL2:HDL3 ratio that was significantly lower in the RA patients (P=.04).
Researchers found no association between age and either HDL subfraction for the RA group, but reduced HDL2-chol and HDL3-chol levels were primarily present in women with RA and not men with RA.
“The reduction of the HDL subfraction concentrations, particularly the supposedly beneficial HDL2-chol, may negatively impact the cardiovascular risk profile of women with RA,” the researchers concluded. “Larger prospective studies would be further necessary in order to test this hypothesis.”