Postprandial triglycerides and endothelial function

A Jagla, J Schrezenmeir
Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes 2001, 109 (4): S533-47
Several studies support the association between postprandially elevated triglyceride levels and atherosclerosis. Histological and cell culture investigations revealed, that triglyceride rich postprandial lipoproteins are taken up by macrophages and smooth muscle cells and are detectable as part of foam cells in vascular lesions. Remnant particles, generated by lipolysis of postprandial lipoproteins in vitro and fatty acids increase the permeability of the endothelium and are cytotoxic for endothelial cells. Besides these morphological changes of cells, lipoproteins have been shown to exert effects on cellular functions like the expression of membrane proteins and the production or release of several bioactive substances regulating communication with blood cells and other cell systems of the vascular wall, blood pressure and hemostasis. This review concentrates on the influence of postprandial lipoproteins on factors involved in the interaction of endothelial cells with blood leukocytes and factors mediating blood pressure regulation. Increased expression of adhesion molecules has been detected immunehistochemically in atherosclerotic plaques in animals and humans. It was demonstrated that patients with elevated triglyceride levels have increased levels of soluble adhesion molecules. Furthermore, postprandial lipoproteins were shown to induce membrane expression of adhesion molecules. This effect seems to be at least in part mediated by the oxidative modification of the particles. Accordingly chylomicrons separated after ingestion of safflower oil, rich in polyunsaturated linoleic acid, induced higher adhesion molecule expression at higher oxidant concentration compared with chylomicrons separated after ingestion of olive oil, rich in monounsaturated oleic acid. Several authors described effects of fatty acids on the expression of adhesion molecules. On the one hand, they may exert stimulatory effects as such, on the other hand cytokine induced adhesion molecule expression may be enhanced by certain fatty acids and inhibited by others, implying an interference with signal transduction processes. Effects of lipoproteins on vasoactive substances seem to be implicated in endothelial dysfunction, too. The endothelium-derived relaxing factor nitric oxide (NO) has gained increasingly attention in the last two decades and is regarded as protective against hypertension and atherosclerosis. It was demonstrated that chylomicrons and their remnants inhibited endothelium-dependent relaxations in isolated aortas. Vasodilatatory responses and nitric oxide metabolism were shown to be affected by the amount and composition of dietary fat. Cell culture experiments revealed modulation of NO release by certain fatty acids. Plasma levels of endothelin-1, a strong vasoconstrictor, have been shown to be increased in patients with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, respectively. Postprandially elevated triglycerides increased endothelin-levels in addition to insulin in patients with metabolic syndrome. In summary, there is evidence that the association between postprandial triglycerides and the metabolic syndrome is driven by direct influences on endothelial functions because plasma triglyceride levels are associated with levels of humoral risk markers of endothelial origin, and postprandial lipoproteins stimulate the release and/or expression of endothelial mediators in vitro, which induce atherogenesis and hypertension.

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