Many patients with lipoprotein disorders are at increased risk for the development of premature atherosclerosis and, less commonly, other disorders that cause systemic morbidity. In some of these patients, xanthomas also develop and provide cutaneous markers for the lipoprotein disorder. As advances in molecular biology refine our understanding of lipoprotein metabolism, it has become increasingly clear that several types of xanthomas are associated with specific disease states. This article presents a differential diagnosis of xanthomas that incorporates contemporary thinking about lipoprotein disorders and focuses on the relationship between abnormalities in lipoprotein metabolism, content, or structure and the development of specific xanthomas.
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