Lipolytic activity was measured in human plasma without prior administration of intravenous heparin. Eluted from heparin-Sepharose in a barbital buffer containing 6 mg/ml heparin, plasma lipolytic activities in 20 subjects were distributed between hepatic triglyceride lipase (HTGL, mean ± SE 60.6 ± 4.6%) and extrahepatic lipoprotein lipase (LPL, 39.4 ± 4.6%). Confirmation of the identities of HTGL and LPL was provided by inhibitory antisera. Preheparin LPL activity was absent in plasma from a patient with type I hyperlipoproteinemia. Both preheparin HTGL and LPL activities correlated with the respective activities measured in plasma obtained 15 min after intravenous injection of heparin (rs = + .774 and +.685, respectively; n = 12). Evidence for the metabolic regulation of preheparin lipases was provided by measurement of significant increases in LPL and HTGL activities after oral glucose ingestion. Overall, preheparin plasma HTGL and LPL activities may reflect ongoing lipoprotein lipolytic activity in tissue beds, and because these measurements do not require the administration of intravenous heparin, they should prove useful for additional studies of short-term regulation of the lipases.

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