Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL)

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Latest Edit: Iva Lloyd, ND 2021-08-24 (EDT)

See Also Lab Tests

Low Density Lipoprotein or LDL, is the lipoprotein that carries the majority of the essential fatty acids from the liver and the intestines to the tissues where it can be sued for membrane formation and steroid hormone production. It contains most of the cholesterol in the serum and the levels are inversely related to HDL with respect to their ratios. Hence, when LDL increases, HDL levels decrease and vice versa. LDL has been found to have a better correlation with risk of atherosclerosis than total cholesterol.[1], [2]

Article The Clinical Significance of Oxidized Low-density Lipoprotein Cholesterol, NDNR; 2012 October


  • LDL aids in the transport of cholesterol and other fatty acids from the liver to the peripheral tissues for uptake and metabolism by the cells.
  • LDL is commonly known as "bad cholesterol", as the process of transporting cholesterol from the liver to the peripheral tissues increases the risk for atherosclerosis.

Patient Preparation

  • Patient must fast for 12-14 hours before testing. Water is permitted.
  • Note: dietary indiscretion within the previous few weeks may influence test results.
  • Factors which can cause increased levels
  • Pregnancy
  • Drugs: aspirin, oral contraceptives, phenothiazines, steroids, thiazides, some beta blockers, sulfonamides, estrogens, progestins, androgens
  • Factors which can cause decreased levels
None noted

Clinical Implications

Ranges: The following are the reference ranges for this lab. However, lab ranges can vary by laboratory and country. [2]

Standard U.S. Units Standard International Units
Conventional Laboratory Range 60-130 mg/dL 1.55-3.36 mmol/L
Optimal Range <120 mg/dL <3.10 mmol/L
Alarm Ranges >200 mg/dL >5.17 mmol/L

High levels indicate:

Low levels indicate:

Associated Tests


  1. Pagana Kathleen D, Pagana Timothy J (1998) Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, Mosby, Inc
  2. 2.0 2.1 Weatherby Dicken, Ferguson Scott (2002) Blood Chemistry and CBC Analysis: Clinical Laboratory Testing from a Functional Perspective, Bear Mountain