Background and aims: A decrease in high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol concentrations during transgender hormone therapy has been shown. However, the ability of HDL to remove cholesterol from arterial wall macrophages, termed cholesterol efflux capacity (CEC), has proven to be a better predictor of cardiovascular disease (CVD) largely independently of HDL-concentrations. In addition, the serum capacity to load macrophages with cholesterol (cholesterol loading capacity, CLC) represents an index of pro-atherogenic potential. As transgender individuals are exposed to lifelong exogenous hormone therapy (HT), it becomes of interest to study whether HDL-CEC and serum CLC are affected by HT. HDL-CEC and serum CLC have been evaluated in 15 trans men treated with testosterone and in 15 trans women treated with estradiol and cyproterone acetate at baseline and after 12 months of HT. Methods: Total HDL-CEC from macrophages and its major contributors, the ATP-binding cassette transporters (ABC) A1 and ABCG1 HDL-CEC and HDL-CEC by aqueous diffusion were determined by a radioisotopic assay. CLC was evaluated in human THP-1 macrophages. Results: In trans women, total HDL-CEC decreased by 10.8% (95%CI: -14.3;-7.3; p < 0.001), ABCA1 HDL-CEC by 23.8% (-34.7; -12.9; p < 0.001) and aqueous diffusion HDL-CEC by 4.8% (-8.4;-1.1; p < 0.01). In trans men, only aqueous diffusion HDL-CEC decreased significantly, -9.8% (-15.7;-3.9; p < 0.01). ABCG1 HDL-CEC did not change in either group. Serum CLC and HDL subclass distribution were not modified by HT in both groups. Conclusions: Total HDL-CEC decreased during HT in trans women, with a specific reduction in ABCA1 CEC. This finding might contribute to a higher CVD risk.
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