We studied the metabolism of chylomicrons in homozygous Watanabe heritable hyperlipidaemic (WHHL) rabbits and in cholesterol-fed or normally fed New Zealand White (NZW) rabbits by measuring the concentrations of apoprotein B-48 and of retinyl palmitate in their serum after feeding fat plus this vitamin according to two different protocols. Compared with NZW controls, retinyl palmitate accumulated in both hyperlipidaemic groups under study, not only in the d less than 1.019 fraction but also in the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) fraction. A strong correlation was found between the retinyl palmitate concentration in either the d less than 1.019 fraction or the LDL fraction of the WHHL rabbits and the concentrations of cholesterol and triacylglycerols in these fractions. This suggests that retinyl palmitate is exchanged rapidly between exogenous and endogenous lipoproteins. This is supported by the lack of a correlation between the retinyl palmitate concentrations and the intensity of the apoprotein B-48 band in the respective d less than 1.019 fractions or LDL fractions; in most fractions, in which large amounts of retinyl palmitate were present, the intensity of the apoprotein B-48 band was not increased compared with the fasting concentrations. Assuming that retinyl palmitate is a marker for the transfer of exogenous lipids, the results of our experiments indicate that the removal of exogenous lipids is delayed by complexing to endogenously synthesized lipoproteins. However, the clearance of apoprotein B-48 is normal and thus independent of the LDL-receptor activity.

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