N-3 fatty acids and chylomicron metabolism in the rat

William S. Harris, Bo E. Hustvedt, Egil Hagen, Michael H. Green, Guoping Lu, Christian A. Drevon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Dietary n-3 fatty acids (FAs) reduce postprandial triacylglycerol concentrations in humans by unknown mechanisms. Our goals were to reproduce this phenomenon in the rat, and then to determine the mechanism. In an oral fat tolerance study two groups of rats were fed diets containing 2.1% ethyl esters of n-3 FA or olive oil for 2 weeks. After gavaging with emulsified soybean oil, the postprandial chylomicron triacylglycerol levels in the n-3 FA group were reduced by 40% (P < 0.05). The hypothesis that n-3 FA feeding reduced chylomicron production/secretion from the gut was tested by blocking chylomicron removal with Triton WR1339 before gavaging the rats with the fat load. This completely eliminated the hypochylomicronemic effect suggesting that chylomicron input was not inhibited by n-3 FAs. Chylomicron clearance was studied by injecting chylomicrons containing radioactive retinyl esters and triacylglycerol into rats from both groups. Pre-feeding with n-3 FAs accelerated the removal of chylomicron triacylglycerol and retinyl esters from the plasma with significantly lower fractions of dose remaining at 2, 4, and 8 min post-injection for both tracers. This findings suggest that n-3 FAs reduce postprandial chylomicronemia in the rat by accelerating chylomicron lipid clearance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)503-515
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Lipid Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology


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