The fasting plasma lipid, lipoprotein and apolipoprotein profiles were determined in 14 healthy Nigerian male athletes and controls matched for sex and anthropometric parameters. The mean levels of total cholesterol (P < 0.05), low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, apolipoprotein (apo) AII and E were significantly lower (P < 0.01) in the athletes than in the controls. However, there were no statistically significant differences (P > 0.05) between the mean values of the plasma triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol, apo AI, B, Lp(a), LpA1 and CIII:NonB respectively for the athletes and controls. A priori, the potential effect on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk was also compared using three predictor ratios - total cholesterol: HDL cholesterol (TC:HDL), LDL cholesterol: HDL cholesterol and apo B:AI. The mean of the three ratios was lower in the athletes than in the controls; however, the differences were not statistically significant (P > 0.05). Based on our data, exercise appears to decrease the TC:HDL ratio in the athletes by lowering LDL-cholesterol, while the HDL-cholesterol is unaffected. We conclude that physical activity has salutary effects on the lipid, lipoprotein and apolipoprotein profiles of healthy Nigerian men.
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