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The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 55:M342-M349 (2000)
© 2000 The Gerontological Society of America

Cardiovascular Fitness, Body Composition, and Lipoprotein Lipid Metabolism in Older Men

Andrew P. Goldberga,b, M. Janette Busby-Whiteheadc, Leslie I. Katzela,b, Ronald M. Kraussd, Marilyn Lumpkina,b and James M. Hagberga,b,e

a Division of Gerontology, Department of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine
b Geriatrics Service/GRECC, Baltimore Veterans Administration Maryland Health Care System
c Division of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore, Maryland.
d Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley
e Center on Aging, University of Maryland, College Park

Andrew P. Goldberg, GRECC (BT/18/GR), Baltimore VA Medical Center, 10 N. Greene St., Baltimore, MD 21201 E-mail: apgoldbe{at}

Decision Editor: William B. Ershler, MD

Background. Lipoprotein lipids in older individuals are affected by family history of coronary artery disease (CAD), obesity, diet, and physical activity habits.

Methods. The relationship of obesity and physical fitness (O2max) to lipoprotein lipids and postheparin lipases was examined in a cross-sectional study of 12 lean (LS) and 26 obese (OS) sedentary men and 18 master athletes (MAs) aged 65 ± 1 years (mean ± SE). The men were healthy, had no family history of CAD, and were weight stable on AHA diets at the time of study.

Results. O2max was similar in LS and OS men but higher in the MAs. The OS men had a higher percentage of body fat (%BF), waist circumference, and waist:hip ratio (WHR) than the MA and LS men, but MA and LS men differed only in waist circumference. Total and LDL-C levels were comparable, but HDL-C, HDL2-C, and %HDL2b subspecies were higher in MAs than in OS and LS men, and in LS than in OS men. Triglyceride (TG) was similar in MAs and LS men but higher in OS men. Across groups, two multiple regression analyses models (O2max, %BF, and WHR or waist circumference) showed that %BF and O2max independently predicted HDL-C and HDL2, whereas WHR predicted TG more strongly than waist circumference Postheparin lipoprotein lipase activity (LPL) was comparable among groups and correlated independently with O2max. Total postheparin lipolytic activity (PHLA), hepatic lipase activity (HL), and HL:PHLA ratio were similar in MAs and LS men but higher in OS men. In both multiple regression analysis models, only %BF predicted HL activity and the HL:PHLA ratio. The HL:PHLA ratio independently predicted HDL-C, HDL2-C, %HDL2b, %HDL3 subspecies, and the cholesterol:HDL-C ratio, whereas LPL activity predicted TG.

Conclusions. Increased fitness and reduced total and abdominal fatness in MAs are associated with lower HL and higher LPL activities, which may mediate their higher HDL-C and lower TG levels relative to their sedentary peers.

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