The effects of dexamethasone (a synthetic glucocorticoid) and insulin on the secretion of very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) were investigated. Rat hepatocytes in monolayer culture were preincubated for 15 h in the presence or absence of combinations of 100 nM-dexamethasone and 2 nM-, 10 nM- or 50 nM-insulin. Dexamethasone increased [3H]oleate incorporation into secreted triacylglycerol by 2.7-fold and the mass of triacylglycerol secreted by 1.5-fold. Insulin alone decreased these parameters and antagonized the effect of dexamethasone. Dexamethasone increased the secretion of [3H]leucine in apolipoprotein (apo) E, and in the large (BH) and small (BI) forms of apo B in VLDL by about 7.1-, 3.6- and 4.0-fold respectively. Insulin alone decreased the secretion of these 3H-labelled apolipoproteins in VLDL. However, 2 nM-insulin with dexamethasone increased the secretion of 3H-labelled apo BH and apo BL by a further 0.8- and 3.2-fold respectively; 50 nM-insulin decreased the secretions of apo E, apo BH and apo BL in VLDL. Similar effects for dexamethasone or insulin alone were also obtained for the masses of apo E and apo BL + H secreted in VLDL. Albumin secretion was not significantly altered by either dexamethasone or insulin alone, but in combination they stimulated by 2.1-2.6-fold. Insulin or dexamethasone alone had little effect on the secretion of apolipoproteins in the HDL fraction. However, dexamethasone plus 2 nM-insulin increased the incorporation of [3H]leucine into apo AI, apo AH plus apo C, apo AIV and apo E of HDL by about 1.8-, 1.6-, 1.7- and 2.0-fold respectively. The apo E in the bottom fraction represented about 69% of the total 3H-labelled apo E secreted. The responses in the total secretion of apo E from the hepatocytes resembled those seen in HDL. The interactions of insulin and dexamethasone are discussed in relation to the general regulation of lipoprotein metabolism, the development of hyperlipidaemias and the predisposition to premature atherosclerosis.

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