Familial hypertriglyceridaemia is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner. The responsible genetic abnormality is unknown but recently, a novel gene encoding apolipoprotein AV has been linked to familial hypertriglyceridaemia. All patients develop the same phenotype with elevated levels of very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) in plasma. The main disorder of this dyslipidaemia is decreased intestinal absorption of biliary acids, leading to a compensatory increase of VLDL production. In familial hypertriglyceridaemia, a marked increase in plasma triglyceride (TG) levels can cause acute pancreatitis. Moreover, patients with other genetic factors, like familial chylomicronaemia, familial combined hyperlipidaemia, familial dysbetalipoproteinaemia and other rare disorders (e.g. Tangier disease and fish eye disease) may present increase of TG levels or cholesterol levels or both. Secondary hypertriglyceridaemias include hypothyroidism, kidney abnormalities (e.g. nephrotic syndrome or chronic kidney failure), diabetes mellitus, heavy alcohol consumption and obesity. In men and postmenopausal women, it seems that estrogen deficiency is responsible for higher TG levels compared with premenopausal women postprandially. In every state -fasting or postprandial-, women demonstrate lower plasma TG levels compared with men. This fact is due not only to increased muscular TG uptake and storage but also to higher TG clearance. Many studies demonstrated an age impact on plasma TG increase and larger variation of fasting TG levels caused by age. Also, hypertriglyceridaemia (TG > 150 mg/dl; 1.7 mmol/l) is one of the diagnostic criteria of metabolic syndrome. Finally, several drugs may increase TG levels (e.g. chlorthalidone or beta-blockers).
Keywords: Triglycerides, metabolism, familial hypertriglyceridaemia, primary and secondary hypertriglyceridaemia, drugs