NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The ratio of triglycerides to high-density lipoprotein (TG/HDL) is strongly correlated with the presence of the metabolic syndrome, according to researchers.

“Insulin resistance is supposed to be the basis of metabolic syndrome, although it is difficult to measure. The ratio of triglyceride to high-density lipoprotein has been proposed as a surrogate marker of insulin resistance in overweight subjects,” write Dr. Alberto Cordero, of Hospital Universitario de San Juan, Alicante, Spain, and colleagues in the August issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

For their study, the researchers collected data from the annual health examinations of 18,778 active workers enrolled in three insurance companies in Spain.

The age-adjusted prevalence of metabolic syndrome was 21.1% in men and 11.3% in women. Subjects with metabolic syndrome had a mean value of the TG/HDL ratio that was two times higher than in those without metabolic syndrome (5.18 versus 2.15, p < 0.001). Globally, a higher TG/HDL ratio was observed among men compared to women (2.84 versus 1.46).

Further analysis showed that a TG/HDL cutoff of 2.75 in men and 1.65 in women yielded 80% sensitivity and 78% specificity in the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome.

“Different definitions exist currently for the diagnosis of the metabolic syndrome with different thresholds for each component,” Dr. Cordero commented to Reuters Health. “We believe that our proposed values of triglycerides-to-HDL ratio help to assess the presence of the metabolic syndrome and the underlying alterations in fatty acids, glucose and cholesterol metabolism.”

Am J Cardiol 2008;102:424-428.