Persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) often have low levels of physical activity, which predispose to increased adiposity and decreased high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) concentrations, and, generally, normal low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) concentrations. In spite of the mixed lipoprotein profile, the SCI population has been reported to have an elevated risk of cardiovascular-related morbidity and mortality. Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy may permit a more precise quantification of lipoprotein particle (P) species, enabling a more accurate inference of risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the SCI population.
Fasting blood samples were obtained on 83 persons with chronic SCI and 62 able-bodied (AB) subjects. Fasting plasma insulin (FPI), triglycerides (TG), and P number and size of VLDL (very low density lipoprotein), LDL, and HDL subclasses were determined. AB and SCI subjects were stratified based on HDL-C (i.e., Low <40 and Normal ≥40 mg/dl): AB-Normal (n = 48), AB-Low (n = 14), SCI-Normal (n = 49), and SCI-Low (n = 34). Factorial analyses of variance were performed to identify group differences in lipoprotein measurements. Pearson correlations were performed between the number of P by lipoprotein subclass, size, FPI, and TG.
The SCI-Normal group was not significantly different from the AB-Normal group for body composition, FPI, TG or LP-IR and had negligible differences in the lipoprotein P profile, except for fewer number and smaller size of HDL-P. The SCI-Low group had a similar lipoprotein profile to that of the AB-Low group, but with a lipid P composition associated with a heightened atherogenic risk and greater tendency toward insulin resistance by the Lipoprotein-Insulin Resistance (LP-IR) score. In the SCI-Low group, the decreased number and reduced size of lipoprotein P were more prevalent and may be associated with increased waist circumference (i.e., abdominal adiposity), relatively elevated TG values (compared to the other subgroups), and an underlying subclinical state of insulin resistance.
Prolonged sitting and restricted physical activity in individuals with SCI had the most profound effect on the HDL-C and its lipoprotein P subclasses, but not on LDL-C, however its P subclasses were also unfavorably affected but not to the same degree. The quantification of lipoprotein P characteristics may be a potent tool for the determination of risk for CVD in persons with SCI.||