Persisting chylomicron remnants have been linked to premature atherosclerosis. The analysis of chylomicron remnant concentrations by an oral triglyceride tolerance test, however, is time-consuming for the study subjects and requires large resources in the laboratory. Therefore, only small numbers of subjects have been studied in the past. The aim of this study was to elucidate the prevalence of elevated chylomicron remnants, to identify effectors of chylomicron remnant clearance and to compare chylomicron remnants in the prediction of coronary artery disease with other risk factors. We applied a novel oral triglyceride tolerance test to 423 patients (368 males, 55 females) with a confirmed diagnosis of coronary artery disease (CAD) and to 390 control subjects (295 males, 95 females) in a case-control setting. This study revealed that elevated chylomicron remnant concentrations (retinyl esters >1.5 μmol/l) are present in 20% of all subjects. Male gender, the apolipoprotein E2 isoform, and higher body mass index were associated with increased chylomicron remnant concentrations. However, chylomicron remnants were lower and plasma triglycerides higher in patients with CAD. We conclude that screening for a delayed clearance of chylomicron remnants is of little clinical value in CAD.
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