Background: In Down syndrome patients several metabolic abnormalities have been reported, some involving the lipid metabolism. The level of LDL in plasma is the major determinant of the risk of vascular disease. There appear to be no studies on the LDL receptor in Down syndrome patients. Methods: Flow cytometric methods for measuring the LDL receptor in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) can identify patients with hypercholesterolemia. We applied this method in 19 old patients with Down syndrome and 23 healthy controls. Results: Down syndrome patients had high levels of triglycerides and low levels of HDL, and high levels of CRP. We also found a down-regulation of LDL receptor expression. Conclusions: Down syndrome patients show no increase in the frequency of cardiovascular disease. The low incidence in cardiovascular disease despite the low level of HDL, high levels of CRP and reduction of LDL receptor expression lead to the conclusion that either these are not risk factors in these patients or that other risks factors - not yet identified - are considerably lower.
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