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Lipoprotein Subfraction Blood Tests

Last updated May 9, 2019

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

The Lipoprotein Subfraction Blood Tests are used to assess the relative levels and distributions of different types of lipoproteins in circulation.

What are the other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • Lipid Fractionation Blood Tests
  • Lipoprotein Phenotyping Blood Tests
  • Lipoprotein Subclasses Blood Tests

What is Lipoprotein Subfraction Blood Tests? (Background Information)

  • Lipoproteins carry cholesterol and fats through blood. They are necessary because cholesterol and fats are not soluble in blood and would otherwise coagulate and clog blood vessels
  • Lipoproteins contain apolipoproteins (“apo-“ means detached) as part of their structure. Apolipoproteins are required for transport and migration outside the blood vessel
  • The type of apolipoprotein contained by a lipoprotein determines where the lipoprotein will go. This is because cells at the destination recognize lipoproteins by the apolipoproteins they contain
  • There are different kinds of lipoproteins, depending on the ratio of protein to fat:
    • Very-low density lipoproteins (VLDL) and chylomicrons contain high amounts of fat per protein
    • High-density lipoproteins (HDL) contain less fat per protein. They transport fat and cholesterol from the body back to the liver for metabolism. Thus, they are called “good”
    •  Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) transport fat and cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body. Thus, they are called “bad”
  • The Lipoprotein Subfraction Blood Tests are used to assess the relative levels and distributions of different types of lipoproteins in circulation
  • The test is used to estimate the risk for cardiovascular disease and also helps provide a measure of one’s cardiovascular health

There are several methods of analyzing the different types of lipoproteins. These include:

  • Ultracentrifugation - separation by density
  • Electrophoresis - separation by size and electric charge
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Lipoprotein Subfraction Blood Tests?

Following are the clinical indications for performing the Lipoprotein Subfraction Blood Tests:

  • Evaluating the risk for cardiovascular disease that is marked by:
    • Chest pain or discomfort
    • Shortness of breath
    • Fatigue
    • Jaw pain
    • Family history of cardiovascular disease
  • Monitoring therapy for cardiovascular disease or high cholesterol levels

How is the Specimen Collected for Lipoprotein Subfraction Blood Tests?

Following is the specimen collection process for Lipoprotein Subfraction Blood Tests:

Sample required: Blood

Process of obtaining blood sample in adults:

  • A band is wrapped around the arm, 3-4 inches above the collection site (superficial vein that lies within the elbow pit)
  • The site is cleaned with 70% alcohol in an outward spiral, away from the zone of needle insertion
  • The needle cap is removed and is held in line with the vein, pulling the skin tight
  • With a small and quick thrust, the vein is penetrated using the needle
  • The required amount of blood sample is collected, by pulling the plunger of the syringe out slowly
  • The wrap band is removed, gauze is placed on the collection site, and the needle is removed
  • The blood is immediately transferred into the blood container, which has the appropriate preservative/clot activator/anti-coagulant
  • The syringe and the needle are disposed into the appropriate “sharp container” for safe and hygienic disposal

Preparation required: Fasting for 9-12 hours prior to testing may be required, per the healthcare provider’s advice.

What is the Significance of the Lipoprotein Subfraction Blood Tests Result?

Abnormalities in the relative levels and distributions of the various types of lipoproteins may indicate:

  • Coronary artery disease (CAD)
  • Anorexia
  • Kidney disorder
  • Liver disorder
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Consuming a diet high in cholesterol and saturated fat

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

Certain factors may interfere with the results of the Lipoprotein Subfraction Blood Tests. These include:

  • Stress
  • Pregnancy
  • Diet
  • Individual genetic predispositions to certain enzyme deficiencies

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider, the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

  • A heart attack occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a section of the heart muscle becomes obstructed

The following article link will help you understand heart attack:


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References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: May 20, 2015
Last updated: May 9, 2019