HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) Subclasses, Lipid Content, and Function Trajectories Across the Menopause Transition: SWAN-HDL Study

Publication Date


UMMS Affiliation

Graduate School of Nursing

Document Type



Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins | Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism | Lipids | Physiology | Reproductive and Urinary Physiology | Women's Health


OBJECTIVE: The cardioprotective capacity of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol postmenopause has been challenged. HDL subclasses, lipid contents, and function might be better predictors of cardiovascular risk than HDL cholesterol. Changes in these measures have not been characterized over the menopause transition (MT) with respect to timing relative to the final menstrual period.

Approach and Results: Four hundred seventy-one women with HDL particle (HDL-P) subclasses (nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy total, large, medium, and small HDL-P and HDL size), HDL lipid content (HDL phospholipids and triglycerides), and HDL function (cholesterol efflux capacity [HDL-CEC]) measured for a maximum of 5 time points across the MT were included. HDL cholesterol and total HDL-P increased across the MT. Within the 1 to 2 years bracketing the final menstrual period, large HDL-P and HDL size declined while small HDL-P and HDL-triglyceride increased. Although overall HDL-CEC increased across the MT, HDL-CEC per HDL-P declined. Higher concentrations of total, large, and medium HDL-P and greater HDL size were associated with greater HDL-CEC while of small HDL-P were associated with lower HDL-CEC. Associations of large HDL-P and HDL size with HDL-CEC varied significantly across the MT such that higher large HDL-P concentrations and greater HDL size were associated with lower HDL-CEC within the 1 to 2 years around the final menstrual period.

CONCLUSIONS: Although HDL cholesterol increased over the MT, HDL subclasses and lipid content showed adverse changes. While overall HDL-CEC increased, HDL-CEC per HDL-P declined, consistent with reduced function per particle. Large HDL-P may become less efficient in promoting HDL-CEC during the MT.


climacteric, lipoproteins, menopause, postmenopause, risk factors

DOI of Published Version



El Khoudary SR, Chen X, Nasr A, Billheimer J, Brooks MM, McConnell D, Orchard T, Crawford S, Matthews KA, Rader DJ. HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) Subclasses, Lipid Content, and Function Trajectories Across the Menopause Transition: SWAN-HDL Study. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2020 Dec 3:ATVBAHA120315355. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.120.315355. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33267661. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology

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