VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) transports cholesterol and triglycerides within the body. It is made in the liver in response to a high-carbohydrate meal. Conditions known to increase levels include diabetes, obesity, and acute hepatitis. It is thought to play a role in atherosclerosis as well. Lifestyle changes and medications are often successful in reducing levels in the blood.
VLDL, which stands for very low density lipoprotein, is one of several transporters of cholesterol within the body.
In order to understand VLDL better, it may be helpful to understand a little more about cholesterol and lipoproteins.
Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance found in all of your body's cells. Your body needs this cholesterol in order to work properly. And to get to all of your cells, cholesterol needs to travel through the bloodstream. But because cholesterol is a fat, it separates from the blood similar to the way that oil separates from water.
To keep this from happening, proteins form a shell around the cholesterol, making a "cholesterol complex." It is then released into the bloodstream and travels to where it needs to go.
A protein that is linked to cholesterol to form this cholesterol complex is called a "lipoprotein." VLDL is one of several lipoprotein complexes. The others include:
- Low density lipoprotein (LDL), which is also called "bad" cholesterol
- High density lipoprotein (HDL), which is also called "good" cholesterol
- Chylomicrons, which are the major transporters of triglycerides in the blood
- Intermediate density lipoprotein (IDL).