The metabolism of lipoprotein-apoprotein was examined in four subjects with normal lipid metabolism and in one subject with type II hyperlipemia by means of isotopic tracer methodology. Studies were performed after intravenous injection of a radioactive amino acid precursor for apoprotein synthesis (75Se-selenomethionine), in both the basal state and following the acute injection of intravenous heparin. Computer technics were used to evaluate a series of multicompartmental models, and a general model is proposed that yields optimum fitting of experimental data for serum free amino acid precursor, very-low-density lipoprotein-apoprotein (VLDapoprotein), and low-density lipoprotein-apoprotein (LDLapoprotein) in man.

The analysis demonstrates that approximately half of the transport of 75Se-apoVLDL from the plasma VLDL pool is converted to 75Se-apoLDL. The acute injection of heparin in two normal subjects results in a two-and-a-half-fold increase in this rate of conversion of 75Se-apoVLDL to 75Se-apoLDL. 75Se-apoLDL is metabolized by rapid transport into a recycling extravascular pool and by irreversible catabolism. The fractional rate of recycling is large relative to the fractional rate of catabolism of apoLDL (3.7:1.0), suggesting extravascular recycling as a potential site of regulation of the plasma concentration of apoLDL. In a patient with type II hyperlipemia, the extravascular recycling pathway is reduced and is not corrected with D-thyroxine therapy. However, this therapy did reduce conversion of apoVLDL to apoLDL in this type II patient.

The kinetic data support the validity of the compartmental model in simulating both normal and pathologic apoprotein metabolism and that perturbation of physiology seen with heparin injection and D-thyroxine therapy. These data support a quantitative role of apoVLDL as a precursor of apoLDL and identify an important recycling pathway of apoLDL metabolism in addition to that of catabolism.

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