Chylomicrons transport fat and cholesterol via lymphatic vessels from the intestine into the bloodstream. The understanding of the metabolism of chylomicrons in man has been slowed by the difficulty of obtaining lymph chylomicrons for experimental studies. Acceptable methods for the study of chylomicron clearance in man are required, because the metabolism of chylomicrons may be abnormal in diseases such as diabetes mellitus. Metabolism of chylomicrons may also play a role in the development of atherosclerosis. In the present work, lipid emulsions were used as a physical model of chylomicrons. Triacylglycerol-rich lipid emulsions labelled with tracer amounts of radioactive triolein and cholesteryl oleate were prepared by sonication and purified by density gradient ultracentrifugation, then injected into unanaesthetized rats and normal human subjects. Plasma radioactivities were measured for 30 min in rats and 90 min in human subjects. Rat lymph chylomicrons were also injected into rats for comparison with the clearance of the lipid emulsions. The plasma clearance data for triacylglycerols and cholesteryl esters were fitted with a kinetic model using the SAAM/CONSAM programs. Multiple studies analysis of the individual studies in each group was used to obtain estimates of the parameter average values and variabilities. The plasma residence times of the lipid labels were obtained from the fitted clearance data. Our results suggest that information about chylomicron metabolism in man can be obtained by analysis of the plasma clearance data following the injection of suitably labelled chylomicron-like lipid emulsions. Our data provide a baseline for comparisons with individuals having abnormalities of lipid metabolism or risk factors for arteriosclerosis.

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