Lymph chylomicrons radiolabelled in triacylglycerol and cholesteryl ester were injected into control and Watanabe heritable-hyperlipidaemic (WHHL) rabbits. Clearance of chylomicrons was slower in heterozygote and homozygote WHHL rabbits. Slower remnant clearance in WHHL rabbits was confirmed by monitoring the clearance from plasma of preformed chylomicron remnants. Use of chylomicron-like lipid emulsions injected into control and WHHL rabbits also confirmed the defect in remnant clearance in heterozygote WHHL and homozygote WHHL groups. Clearance from plasma of emulsion triolein was delayed in both WHHL groups compared with controls, owing to slower remnant clearance. The clearance from plasma of radioiodinated rabbit low-density lipoproteins (LDL) in heterozygote WHHL rabbits was the same as control rabbits. Defective chylomicron-remnant removal but normal LDL clearance in the heterozygote WHHL corresponded to elevated concentrations of plasma triacylglycerol and normal concentrations of plasma cholesterol. Receptor versus non-receptor clearances of chylomicron remnants were studied by comparing the clearance of emulsions with and without unesterified cholesterol respectively. Unlike control rabbits, there were no significant differences in the clearances of the two emulsion types in either the homozygote or heterozygote WHHL rabbits, indicating that the apolipoprotein-B100/E receptor is the primary route for clearance of chylomicron remnants from plasma.

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