The polycation protamine impedes the catabolism of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins and this has been suggested to be due to intravascular inactivation of lipoprotein lipase. We have made intravenous injections of protamine to rats and found that both lipoprotein lipase and hepatic lipase activities were released to plasma. The effect of protamine was more short-lived than that obtained by injection of heparin. The release of hepatic lipase by protamine was as effective as the release by heparin, while the amount of lipoprotein lipase released by protamine was only about one-tenth of that released by heparin. This was not due to inactivation of lipoprotein lipase, since injection of an excess of heparin 10 min after injection of protamine released as much lipoprotein lipase activity to plasma as in controls. The results in vivo differed from those obtained in model experiments in vitro. Protamine was able to almost quantitatively release both lipoprotein lipase and hepatic lipase from columns of heparin-agarose. The displacement was dependent on the total amount of protamine that had passed over the column, indicating that it was due to occupation by protamine of all available binding sites. Our results in vivo showed that the binding sites for lipoprotein lipase were not blocked as efficiently as those for hepatic lipase, indicating that the binding structures were not identical. It was concluded that the impaired turnover of lipoproteins by protamine probably was due to prevention of binding of the lipoproteins to endothelial cell surfaces rather than to impaired lipase function.

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