Modest diet-induced weight loss reduces macrophage cholesterol efflux to plasma of patients with metabolic syndrome

Madhuri Vasudevan, Urbain Tchoua, Baiba K. Gillard, Peter H. Jones, Christie M. Ballantyne, Henry J. Pownall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background Obesity-linked metabolic syndrome (MetS) is associated with a dyslipidemic profile that includes hypertriglyceridemia and low plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. HDL initiates reverse cholesterol transport via macrophage cholesterol efflux (MCE). Some hypothesize that dyslipidemic patients have impaired reverse cholesterol transport. MCE to patient plasma, a metric of HDL function, inversely correlates with atherosclerotic burden. Paradoxically, MCE to plasma of hypertriglyceridemic subjects is higher than that to normolipidemic (NL) plasma. Objective Although weight loss reduces dyslipidemia, its effect on MCE to the plasma of obese patients with MetS is unknown. Thus, we tested the hypothesis that reducing dyslipidemia with weight loss reduces the MCE capacity of MetS plasma to that of NL plasma. Methods Cholesterol efflux (MCE) from THP-1 macrophages to plasma from NL controls and to obese patients with MetS before and after weight loss was measured. Results MCE to plasma of obese patients with MetS was higher than that of control plasma (P =.006). Weight loss in patients with MetS (mean, -9.77 kg) reduced dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, and systolic blood pressure. HDL cholesterol was unchanged, and apolipoprotein A-I decreased with weight loss. Weight loss in patients with MetS normalized MCE (P <.001) to that of NL subjects. MCE correlated with apolipoprotein B levels (r2 = 0.13-0.38). Chromatography showed that macrophage cholesterol initially associates with HDL but accumulates in apolipoprotein B-containing lipoproteins at later times. Conclusions Although the initial acceptor of MCE is HDL, the elevated apolipoprotein B lipoproteins are a cholesterol sink that increases MCE in patients with MetS. Weight loss results in decreased apolipoprotein B lipoproteins and decreased MCE to plasma of patients with MetS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)661-670
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Lipidology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Lipoproteins
  • Macrophage cholesterol efflux
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Internal Medicine
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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