Influence of age on the metabolism of plasma low density lipoproteins in healthy males

Sverker Ericsson, Mats Eriksson, Sigurd Vitols, Kurt Einarsson, Lars Berglund, Bo Angelin

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118 Scopus citations


The plasma concentration of the atherogenic low density lipoproteins (LDL) increases with age. To clarify the mechanism of this change, we studied the kinetics of autologous 125I-LDL apolipoprotein B (apo B) in 41 normolipidemic, nonobese healthy males. For comparison, they were divided into three age groups: young, 21-39 yr (n = 18), middle-aged, 40-59 yr (n = 11), and old, 60-80 yr (n = 12). The levels of plasma LDL cholesterol and LDL apo B increased from respectively 3.4±0.1 (SEM) mmol/liter and 86±2 mg/dl in the young to 4.1±0.1 mmol/liter and 95±3 mg/dl in the old (P < 0.01), and this increase was linked to a progressively decreased (r = -0.38, P < 0.02) fractional catabolic rate of LDL apo B (0.348±0.010 pools per day in the young vs. 0.296±0.009 pools per day in the old, P < 0.01). The production rate of LDL apo B did not differ significantly between the groups. The reduced fractional catabolic rate of LDL apo B in the old was not associated with a decrease in binding affinity of the LDL particle to its receptor, as judged from its ability to compete for 125I-LDL fibroblast binding. When hepatic LDL receptor expression was stimulated by cholestyramine treatment in six old males, their LDL apo B fractional catabolic rate increased to the levels observed in the young subjects. We conclude that the increase in LDL which normally occurs with age is explained by a reduced capacity for its removal, and hypothesize that this is mediated via a reduced hepatic LDL receptor expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-596
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Apolipoprotein b
  • Cholesterol
  • Low density lipoprotein kinetics
  • Low density lipoprotein receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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