Definition - What does Lipoprotein mean?
A lipoprotein is a special particle made up of many molecules that is able to carry lipids or fat through the blood and other bodily substances. Lipids, such as cholesterol, are not water soluble, thus must be attached to or stored within a protein to make their way through the body. The resulting combination is referred to as a lipoprotein.
There are various types of lipoproteins, each of which performs a specific task within the body. Lipoproteins are identified by their densities and unique chemical composition.
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When the term lipoprotein is used in connection with bloodwork or a lab test, it most often refers to a cholesterol test. Both LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) levels are usually measured.
LDL is often referred to as bad cholesterol. This is because a high level of LDL means that there are many of these lipoproteins in the body transporting cholesterol to the cells. When there are too many of these lipoproteins present, the cholesterol may begin to accumulate in the walls of the body's blood vessels forming plaque (a.k.a. hardening of the arteries). Excessive levels of LDL (low density lipoproteins) are an indicator that a person is at risk for heart disease or stroke.
HDL, on the other hand, is referred to as good cholesterol. High-density lipoproteins are responsible for transporting cholesterol from other parts of the body to the liver where it is eliminated. High levels of HDL indicate that the body's lipoproteins are removing excess cholesterol from the bloodstream.