Associations between Alcohol Consumption and HDL Subspecies Defined by ApoC3, ApoE and ApoJ: the Cardiovascular Health Study
Alcohol consumption increases circulating high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), but HDL protein cargo may better reflect HDL function. This study examined the associations between alcohol intake and HDL subspecies containing or lacking apoC3, apoE, and apoJ in a well-phenotyped cohort. We performed a cross-sectional analysis of 2092 Cardiovascular Health Study participants aged 70 or older with HDL subspecies measured in stored specimens from 1998 to 1999. Associations between alcohol intake and apoA1 defined HDL subspecies lacking or containing apoC3, apoE, and apoJ, and circulating levels of total apoA1, apoC3, apoE, and apoJ were examined. HDL subspecies lacking and containing apoC3, apoE, and apoJ were all positively associated with alcohol intake, with ∼1% per additional drink per week or ∼7% per additional drink per day (subspecies without the apolipoproteins, P ≤ 2 × 10−9, subspecies with the apolipoproteins, P ≤ 3 × 10−5). Total apoA1 was also directly associated with alcohol consumption, with a 1% increase per additional drink per week (P = 1 × 10−14). Total apoC3 blood levels were 0.5% higher per additional drink per week (P = 0.01), but the association was driven by a few heavily drinking men. Alcohol intake was positively associated with HDL subspecies lacking and containing apoC3, apoE, or apoJ, and with total plasma apoA1. ApoC3 was directly, albeit not as robustly associated with alcohol intake. HDL protein cargo is crucial for its anti-atherosclerotic functions, but it remains to be determined whether HDL subspecies play a role in the putative association between limited alcohol intake and lower risk of coronary heart disease.