Kinetics of Saturated, Monounsaturated, and Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Humans

  1. John M. Miles
  1. Endocrine Research Unit, Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, Diabetes, and Nutrition, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
  1. Corresponding author: Robert H. Nelson, nelson.robert1{at}


Plasma free fatty acid (FFA) kinetics in humans are often measured with only one tracer. In study 1, healthy volunteers received infusions of [U-13C]linoleate, [U-13C]oleate, and [U-13C]palmitate during continuous feeding with liquid meals low (n = 12) and high (n = 5) in palmitate and containing three labeled fatty acids to measure FFA appearance and fractional spillover of lipoprotein lipase–generated fatty acids. Study 2 used an intravenous lipid emulsion to increase FFA concentrations during infusion of linoleate and palmitate tracers. In study 1, there were no differences in spillover of the three fatty acids for the low-palmitate meal, but linoleate spillover was greater than oleate or palmitate for the high-palmitate meal. In studies 1 and 2, clearance was significantly greater for linoleate than for the other FFAs. There was a negative correlation between clearance and concentration for each fatty acid in the two studies. In study 1, concentration and spillover correlated positively for oleate and palmitate but negatively for linoleate. In conclusion, linoleate spillover is greater than that of other fatty acids under some circumstances. Linoleate clearance is greater than that of palmitate or oleate, indicating a need for caution when using a single FFA to infer the behavior of all fatty acids.

  • Received March 23, 2012.
  • Accepted September 25, 2012.

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  1. Diabetes vol. 62 no. 3 783-788
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