High density lipoprotein metabolism in endurance athletes and sedentary men

P. D. Thompson, E. M. Cullinane, S. P. Sady, M. M. Flynn, C. B. Chenevert, P. N. Herbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Background. Endurance athletes have higher high density lipoprotein (HDL) concentrations than sedentary controls. To examine the mechanism for this effect, we compared HDL apoprotein metabolism in 10 endurance athletes aged 34 ± 6 years (mean ± SD) and 10 sedentary men aged 36 ± 8 years. Methods and Results. Subjects were maintained on controlled diets for 4 weeks, and metabolic studies using autologously labeled 125I HDL were performed during the final 2 weeks. Lipids and lipoproteins were measured daily during these 2 weeks, and the average of 14 values was used in the analysis. HDL cholesterol (58 ± 14 versus 41 ± 10 mg/dl), HDL2 cholesterol (26 ± 10 versus 12 ± 8 mg/dl), and apolipoprotein A-I (apo A-I) (144 ± 18 versus 115 ± 22 mg/dl) were higher in the athletes, whereas triglyceride concentrations (60 ± 18 versus 110 ± 48 mg/dl) were lower (p < 0.01 for all). Postheparin lipoprotein lipase activity was not different, but hepatic triglyceride lipase activity was 27% lower (p < 0.06) in the athletes. The athletes' mean clearance rate of triglycerides after an infusion of Travamulsion (1 ml/kg) was nearly twofold that of the inactive men (5.8 ± 1.5 versus 3.2 ± 0.9%/min, p < 0.001). There was no differences in HDL apoprotein synthetic rates, whereas the catabolic rates of both apo A-I (0.15 ± 0.02 versus 0.22 ± 0.05 pools per day, p < 0.01) and apolipoprotein A-II (apo A-II) (0.15 ± 0.02 versus 0.20 ± 0.04 pools per day, p < 0.05) were reduced in the trained men. Apo A-I and apo A-II half-lives correlated with HDL cholesterol in each group (r>0.76, p<0.05 for all) but not consistently with lipase activities or fat clearance rates. This relation between apoprotein catabolism and HDL cholesterol was strongest at HDL cholesterol concentrations of less than 60 mg/dl. Conclusions. We conclude that higher HDL levels in active men are associated with increased HDL protein survival. The mechanisms mediating this effect require better definition, and other factors appear to contribute to HDL cholesterol and protein concentrations among individual subjects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-152
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Apolipoproteins
  • Exercise
  • High density lipoprotein
  • Triglycerides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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