Systemic Free Fatty Acid Disposal Into Very Low-Density Lipoprotein Triglycerides

  1. Michael D. Jensen1
  1. 1Endocrine Research Unit, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
  2. 2Center for Human Nutrition, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri
  1. Corresponding author: Michael D. Jensen, jensen.michael{at}


We measured the incorporation of systemic free fatty acids (FFA) into circulating very low-density lipoprotein triglycerides (VLDL-TGs) under postabsorptive, postprandial, and walking conditions in humans. Fifty-five men and 85 premenopausal women with BMI 18–24 (lean) and 27–36 kg/m2 (overweight/obese) received an intravenous bolus injection of [1,1,2,3,3-2H5]glycerol (to measure VLDL-TG kinetics) and either [1-14C]palmitate or [9,10-3H]palmitate to determine the proportion of systemic FFA that is converted to VLDL-TG. Experiments started at 0630 h after a 12-h overnight fast. In the postabsorptive protocol, participants rested and remained fasted until 1330 h. In the postprandial protocol, volunteers ingested frequent portions of a fat-free smoothie. In the walking protocol, participants walked on a treadmill for 5.5 h at ∼3× resting energy expenditure. Approximately 7% of circulating FFA was converted into VLDL-TG. VLDL-TG secretion rates (SRs) were not statistically different among protocols. Visceral fat mass was the only independent predictor of VLDL-TG secretion, explaining 33–57% of the variance. The small proportion of systemic FFA that is converted to VLDL-TG can confound the expected relationship between plasma FFA concentration and VLDL-TG SRs. Regulation of VLDL-TG secretion is complex in that, despite a broad spectrum of physiological FFA concentrations, VLDL-TG SRs did not vary based on different acute substrate availability.

  • Received November 9, 2012.
  • Accepted February 20, 2013.

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  1. Diabetes vol. 62 no. 7 2386-2395
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