British Journal of Nutrition

Research Article

Dietary, physiological, genetic and pathological influences on postprandial lipid metabolism

José Lopez-Mirandaa1, Christine Williamsa2 and Denis Lairona3 c1

a1 Lipids and Atherosclerosis Research Unit, Department of Medicine. Hospital Universitario Reina Sofía, University of Cordoba, Córdoba, Spain

a2 Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition, School of Food Biosciences, University of Reading, 226 Whiteknights, Reading, Berkshire, RG6 6AP, UK

a3 INSERM, 476 Nutrition Humaine et lipides, Marseille, F-13385 France; INRA, 1260, Marseille, F-13385 France; Université Méditerranée Aix-Marseille 2, Faculté de Médecine, IPHM-IFR 125, Marseille, F-13385 France


Most of diurnal time is spent in a postprandial state due to successive meal intakes during the day. As long as the meals contain enough fat, a transient increase in triacylglycerolaemia and a change in lipoprotein pattern occurs. The extent and kinetics of such postprandial changes are highly variable and are modulated by numerous factors. This review focuses on factors affecting postprandial lipoprotein metabolism and genes, their variability and their relationship with intermediate phenotypes and risk of CHD. Postprandial lipoprotein metabolism is modulated by background dietary pattern as well as meal composition (fat amount and type, carbohydrate, protein, fibre, alcohol) and several lifestyle conditions (physical activity, tobacco use), physiological factors (age, gender, menopausal status) and pathological conditions (obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus). The roles of many genes have been explored in order to establish the possible implications of their variability in lipid metabolism and CHD risk. The postprandial lipid response has been shown to be modified by polymorphisms within the genes for apo A-I, A-IV, A-V, E, B, C-I and C-III, lipoprotein lipase, hepatic lipase, fatty acid binding and transport proteins, microsomal triglyceride transfer protein and scavenger receptor class B type I. Overall, the variability in postprandial response is important and complex, and the interactions between nutrients or dietary or meal compositions and gene variants need further investigation. The extent of present knowledge and needs for future studies are discussed in light of ongoing developments in nutrigenetics.

(Received November 08 2006)

(Revised February 21 2007)

(Accepted March 12 2007)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr Denis Lairon, fax +33 4 91 78 21 01, email


Abbreviations: LPL, lipoprotein lipase; TRL, triacylglycerol-rich lipoprotein