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Lipoprotein subclass profiles in young adults born preterm at very low birth weight

Petteri Hovi12, Eero Kajantie12, Pasi Soininen3, Antti J Kangas7, Anna-Liisa Järvenpää2, Sture Andersson2, Johan G Eriksson1456, Mika Ala-Korpela378 and Karoliina Wehkalampi12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Chronic Disease Prevention, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Mannerheimintie 166, P.O. Box 30, FI-00271 Helsinki, Finland

2 Children’s Hospital Helsinki University Central Hospital and University of Helsinki, Stenbäckinkatu 11, FI-00029 HUS Helsinki, Finland

3 NMR Metabolomics Laboratory, School of Pharmacy University of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 1627, FI-70211 Kuopio, Finland

4 Unit of General Practice Helsinki University Central Hospital and University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 20, FI-00029 HUS Helsinki, Finland

5 Folkhälsan Research Center University of Helsinki, Haartmaninkatu 8, Helsinki, FI-00014, Finland

6 Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, University of Helsinki, Haartmaninkatu 8, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland

7 Computational Medicine, Institute of Health Sciences, University of Oulu and Oulu University Hospital, Aapistie 5 A, P.O.Box 5000, 90014 Oulu, Finland

8 Computational Medicine, School of Social and Community Medicine University of Bristol, Oakfield House, Oakfield Grove, Bristol BS8 2BN, UK

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Lipids in Health and Disease 2013, 12:57  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-12-57

Published: 30 April 2013



Adults born preterm at very low birth weight (VLBW ≤ 1500g) have increased risk factors for cardiovascular diseases including high blood pressure and impaired glucose regulation. Non-optimal lipoprotein profile is generally also likely to affect the increased cardiovascular risk, but lipoprotein subclass level data on adults born at VLBW are sparse.

Subjects and methods

We studied 162 subjects born at VLBW and 169 term-born controls, aged 19 to 27 years. Total lipid, triglyceride and cholesterol concentrations of 14 lipoprotein subclasses were determined by proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy in the fasting state and in 2-hour serum samples from an oral glucose tolerance test.


In comparison to controls, VLBW subjects had significantly higher fasting concentration of triglycerides in chylomicrons and largest very-low-density lipoprotein particles [XXL-VLDL-TG, difference 0.026 (95% CI: 0.004 to 0.049), P = 0.024], and of triglycerides in small high-density lipoprotein particles [S-HDL-TG, 0.026 (95% CI: 0.002 to 0.051), P = 0.037]. The seemingly important role of triglycerides was further supported by principal component analysis in which the first component was characterized by multiple lipoprotein triglyceride measures.


Young adults born at VLBW and their peers born at term had triglyceride-related differences in both VLDL and HDL subclasses. These differences suggest that the increased risk factors for cardiovascular diseases among the VLBW individuals in adulthood may partly relate to impaired triglyceride metabolism.

Very low birth weight; Prematurity; Lipoprotein; Lipids; Subclass