Increasing availability of free fatty acids (FFA) to liver results in enhanced rates of secretion of triglycerides in lipoproteins. However, as FFA uptake increases, triglyceride secretory rates reach a plateau and esterified fatty acids accumulate intracellularly, suggesting that something is limiting lipid transport out of the liver. One possibility could be the limited availability of apoproteins. To test this hypothesis, primary rat hepatocytes in culture were incubated with increasing amounts of FFA (0-2.1 mumol/dish) and the amounts of lipids and apoproteins inside the cells and in culture media were measured; the latter by specific radioimmunoassays. Media also were fractionated on Sepharose 2B and 6B columns and the elution profiles of apoproteins were obtained. With exposure to increasing amounts of free fatty acids, hepatocytes took up more fatty acids and intracellular levels of triglycerides rose (from 71 to 146 micrograms/mg cell protein). Concomitantly, media triglycerides nearly doubled (31 to 51 micrograms/mg). Incorporation of [3H]glyceride into cellular and media triglyceride also rose. However, levels of apoproteins A-I, B, C-III3, and E in cells and media were unchanged. The increasing amounts of triglycerides in media were present in larger particles, as demonstrated on gel permeation chromatography. The elution profiles of apoproteins B, C-III3, and E were altered in that a greater proportion of the apoproteins eluted with larger particles. Similar results were obtained when hepatocytes were preloaded with increasing amounts of FFA over 12 h and analyses of cells and media were carried out 8 and 22 h after removal of fatty acids from the media. During loading of cells, accumulation of cellular triglycerides was directly related to media FFA concentrations. During unloading, triglyceride secretory rates were related to cellular triglyceride levels. At higher triglyceride secretory rates larger particles were secreted and a greater proportion of apoproteins was associated with the larger particles, but total amounts of apoproteins in the system did not change. These data lead us to suggest that enhanced rates of apoprotein synthesis need not occur in the response to acute changes in hepatic lipid transport, rather, increased secretion of lipid is brought about by augmented intracellular lipid apoprotein association.
W Patsch, T Tamai, G Schonfeld