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Clinical Investigations: PLEURA |

Relationship Between Pleural Fluid and Serum Cholesterol Levels*

Marcelo A. C. Vaz, MD; Lisete R. Teixeira, MD; Francisco S. Vargas, MD, FCCP; Alipio O. Carmo, PharmD; Leila Antonangelo, MD; Roberto Onishi, MD; Richard W. Light, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

*From the Division of Respiratory Diseases, Heart Institute (InCor), University of São Paulo Medical School, São Paulo, Brazil; and the Department of Medicine, Saint Thomas Hospital and Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.

Correspondence to: Richard W. Light, MD, FCCP, Director of Pulmonary Disease Program, Saint Thomas Hospital, 4220 Harding Rd, Nashville, TN 37205; e-mail: rlight98@yahoo.com



Chest. 2001;119(1):204-210. doi:10.1378/chest.119.1.204
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Introduction: Since the criteria of Light and colleagues for differentiating transudates and exudates were described, other tests, including the pleural fluid (PF) cholesterol test, have been proposed for the same purpose. However, the factors influencing PF cholesterol levels have not been clearly delineated.

Purpose: To analyze the relationships among total cholesterol (CHOL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides (TRIG) in serum (S) and PF.

Methods: PF and S from 99 patients (transudates, 13 patients; exudates, 86 patients) were analyzed for CHOL, HDL, LDL, TRIG, apolipoprotein AI, apolipoprotein B, and protein. The relationship between the PF and S level for each of these measurements was analyzed with linear regression and multiple regression using the ratio of PF to S protein for that measurement as a second independent variable.

Results: This study demonstrated that CHOL levels in PF are related to S cholesterol levels and to the permeability of the pleura (r = 0.88; p < 0.001). However, the percentage of CHOL associated with LDL and HDL (56%) in the PF was much lower than that associated with LDL and HDL in S (93%), suggesting that lipoproteins are modified once they enter the pleural space. The PF TRIG was not closely related to its S level or to the PF/S protein ratio (r = 0.49).

Conclusion: PF cholesterol levels can be closely predicted from the S cholesterol levels and the permeability of the pleura, as reflected by the ratio of PF protein to S protein. Therefore, the CHOL ratio should not provide additional information to that provided by the protein ratio when trying to differentiate transudates from exudates. PF lipoproteins (LDL and HDL) undergo metabolic alterations once they enter the pleural space. PF TRIG levels are not closely related to S levels or to the permeability of the pleura.

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