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Triglycerides, Serum

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Serum triglycerides are used to assess cardiovascular risk in patients with elevated cholesterol.

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Triglycerides are esters of glycerol with 3 molecules of long chain fatty acids. They are partly synthesized in the liver and partly derived from diet.

Triglycerides constitute a significant portion (up to 70%) of very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) and a small portion (<10%) of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) in fasting serum samples. Food triglycerides are transported as constituents of chylomicrons through the lymphatic system and the bloodstream to adipose tissue where they are released for storage. Triglycerides are also synthesized in the liver from fatty acids, proteins and glucose that are not used for the immediate needs of the body and are then stored in adipose tissue. These energy sources can be later recovered and converted to glucose by gluconeogenesis.

Elevated plasma triglyceride levels are indicative of metabolic abnormality and, along with elevated cholesterol, are considered a risk factor for atherosclerosis. Hypertriglyceridemia may be hereditary or may be associated with biliary obstruction, diabetes mellitus, nephrotic syndrome, renal failure or metabolic disorders associated with endocrine disorders. Elevated triglycerides may also be caused by medications (e.g. prednisone).

Possible Interpretations of Pathological Values
  • Increase: Alcoholism, aortic aneurysm, aortitis, arteriosclerosis, diabetes mellitus, diet (rich in carbohydrates, prolonged high fat), familial hypertriglyceridemia, glycogen storage diseases, gout, hypercholesterolemia, hyperlipoproteinemia, hypothyroidism, metabolic syndrome, myocardial infarction, myxoids, nephrotic syndrome, obesity, pancreatitis, pregnancy, kidney failure (chronic), fasting (at onset), anxiety, Tangier disease, von Gierke disease, smoking. Medications: Cholestyramine, corticosteroids, estrogens, ethyl alcohol (ethanol), miconazole (intravenous), oral contraceptives, spironolactone
  • Decrease: Abalitloproteinemia, acanthocytosis, cirrhosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hyperactive bowel, hyperthyroidism, malabsorption, malnutrition. Medications: Ascorbic acid, asparaginase, clofibrate, dextrothyroxine, gemfibrozil, heparin, lobastatin, metformin, niacin, phenformin, pravastatin, sulfonylureas. Natural or herbal remedies including Cordyceps sinensis, garlic and soy




Important Note

Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. Correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".

Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.

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