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VLDL and Triglycerides

Authors: Henry Ginsberg, MDFaculty and Disclosures



What is the relationship between VLDL and triglycerides?

Response From the Expert

Henry Ginsberg, MD
Irving Professor of Medicine, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York; Director, Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York

Very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) are complexes of lipids and proteins assembled in the liver in response to nutrients and hormones. When VLDL are secreted, they carry almost all of the triglyceride in the blood-stream (they are about 85% triglycerides themselves). Their function is to carry triglycerides from the liver, possibly to avoid the development of fatty liver, taking them to the peripheral tissues for storage in adipose tissue or for use in skeletal muscle. When we are overweight, in positive caloric balance, insulin resistant, or have diabetes, our livers secrete more VLDL with more triglycerides on every VLDL particle (they are larger). Because VLDL carry most of the triglyceride in plasma, the VLDL triglyceride and plasma triglyceride levels are almost the same (there is a bit of triglyceride in low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein) during fasting. In the postprandial period, plasma triglycerides are also found significantly in chylomicrons and their remnants.

Supported by an independent educational grant from Reliant Pharmaceuticals

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