A model for the synthesis and degradation of very low density lipoprotein triglyceride (VLDL-TG) in mand is proposed to explain plasma VLDL-TG radioactivity data from studies conducted over a 48-h interval after injection of glycerol labeled with 14C, 3H, or both. The curve describing the radioactivity of plasma VLDL triglycerides reaches a maximum at about 2 h, after which the decay is biphasic in all cases; the late curvature becoming evident only after 8-12 h. To fit the complex curve, it was necessary to postulate two pathways for the incorporation of plasma glycerol into VLDL-TG, one much slower than the other. A process of stepwise delipidation of VLDL in the plasma compartment, previously proposed for VLDL apoprotein models, was also necessary. Predicted VLDL-TG synthesis rates calculated with this model can differ significantly from those based on experiments of shorter duration in which the slow VLDL-TG component is not apparent. The results of these studies strongly support the interpretation that the late, slow component of the VLDL-TG activity curve is predominantly due to the slowly turning-over precursor compartment in the conversion pathway and is not due either to a slow compartment in the labeled precursor, plasma free glycerol, or to an exchange of plasma VLDL-TG with an extravascular compartment. It also cannot, in these studies, be attributed to a slowly turning-over VLDL-TG moiety in the plasma. The model was tested with data from 59 studies including normal subjects and patients with obesity and(or) various forms of hyperlipoproteinemia. Good fits were obtained in all cases, and the estimated parameter values and their uncertainties for 13 normolipemic nonobese subjects are presented. Sensitivity testing was carried out to determine how critical various parameter estimations are to the assumptions introduced in the modeling.
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