The atherogenic potential of dietary derived lipids, chylomicrons (CM) and their remnants (CMr) is now becoming more widely recognised. To investigate factors effecting levels of CM and CMr and their importance in coronary heart disease risk it is essential to use a specific method of quantification. Two studies were carried out to investigate: (i) effects of increased daily intake of long chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (LC n-3 PUFA), and (ii) effects of increasing meal monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) content on the postprandial response of intestinally-derived lipoproteins. The contribution of the intestinally-derived lipoproteins to total lipaemia was assessed by triacylglycerol-rich lipoprotein (TRL) apolipoprotein B-48 (apo B-48) and retinyl ester (RE) concentrations.
In a randomised controlled crossover trial (placebo vs LC n-3 PUFA) a mean daily intake of 1.4 g/day of LC n-3 PUFA failed to reduce fasting and postprandial triacylglycerol (TAG) response in 9 healthy male volunteers. Although the pattern and nature of the apo B-48 response was consistent with the TAG response following the two diets, the postprandial RE response differed on the LC n-3 PUFA diet with a lower early RE response and a delayed and more marked increase in RE in the late postprandial period compared with the control diet, but the differences did not reach levels of statistical significance. In the meal study there was no effect of MUFA/SFA content on the total lipaemic response to the meals nor on the contribution of intestinally derived lipoproteins evaluated as TAG, apo B-48 and RE responses in the TRL fraction. In both studies, the RE and apo B-48 measurements provided broadly similar information with respect to lack of effects of dietary or meal fatty acid composition and the presence of single or multiple peak responses. However the apo B-48 and RE measurements differed with respect to the timing of their peak response times, with a delayed RE peak, relalive to apo B-48, of approximately 2-3 hours for the LC n-3 PUFA diet (p = 0.002) study and 1-1.5 hours for the meal MUFA/SFA study.
It was concluded that there are limitations of using RE as a specific CM marker, apo B-48 quantitation was found to be a more appropriate method for CM and CMr quantitation. However it was still considered of value to measure RE as it provided additional information regarding the incorporation of other constituents into the CM particle.