An acute intraperitoneal injection of ethanol (0.7 or 2.1g/kg body wt.) causes the reversible, dose-dependent accumulation of hepatic triglyceride in rats. By using a pulse of [14C]palmitate injected into a tail vein, it was found that ethanol (2.1g/kg)had no effect on the flux of unesterified fatty acid of serum (4.3mumol/min per 100g body wt.). However, either dose increased the fraction of the total flux going to liver from 0.16 to0.27 as rapidly as could be measured (30s), and it remained elevated until all ethanol had been cleared from the blood. The fraction of the total radioactivity in lipids of liver that was in triglyceride increased linearly for 1 h from 30 to 50% and there was a simultaneous decrease in phospholipid from 60 to 40%. The rate of synthesis of hepatic triglyceride derived directly from unesterified fatty acid of serum was calculated by using the flux rate of unesterified fatty acid in serum, the fractional hepatic uptake of this flux, and the percentage of liver fatty acid esterified to triglyceride. This contribution is related to the total synthetic rate of hepatic triglyceride (rate of accumulation+rate of release) to determine quantitatively how much of the developing fatty liver is attributable to increased uptake of unesterfied fatty acid of serum. At the higher dose of ethanol, about half of the accumulating triglyceride is derived from this source, whereas with the lower dose of ethanol it can account for all of the build-up.

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