Turnover rates of plasma very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) triglyceride (TG) and apolipoprotein-B (apo-B) were significantly increased in age- and weight-matched groups of normolipemic and hyperlipemic mild diabetics, and hyperlipemic moderately severe diabetics when compared with normolipemic controls. As in the normolipemic subjects, a significant correlation between VLDL TG and apo-B turnover rates was found in all diabetic groups, suggesting that integration of TG and apo-B production at synthetic and/or secretory sites is retained in diabetes, thus resulting in increased secretion of VLDL particles of normal composition. In normolipemic mild diabetic subjects, the fractional turnover rates of VLDL TG and apo-B were also significantly increased so that increased removal accompanied increased VLDL production. In the hyperlipemic diabetics, however, the fractional turnover rates were significantly reduced, hence the increased in VLDL removal was not sufficient to compensate for enhanced production. In normolipemic mild diabetic patients, low density lipoprotein (LDL) formation was increased, only a small fraction of VLDL apo-B being removed via a non-LDL pathway, presumably as remnant VLDL. In hyperlipemic mild diabetics, removal of VLDL apo-B via both the LDL and non-LDL pathways was increased. In hyperlipemic moderately severe diabetes, LDL formation was not increased; catabolism of VLDL apo-B through the non-LDL route was however, fivefold > normal. We conclude that increased VLDL secretion is a fundamental defect in non-insulin-dependent diabetes. In hyperlipemic individuals, VLDL removal is also impaired. The increase in LDL and/or VLDL remnant formation, regardless of prevailing plasma lipid levels or the severity of diabetes, provides a source of cholesterol which may account for the atherogeneity of this disorder.

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