British Journal of Nutrition

Research Article

Decreasing dietary fat saturation lowers HDL-cholesterol and increases hepatic HDL binding in hamsters

A. H. M. Terpstraa1 c1, P. van den Berga2, H. Jansena2, A. C. Beynena1 and A. van Tola2

a1 Department of Laboratory Animal Science Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands

a2 Department of Biochemistry Cardiovascular Research Institute COEUR, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands


In order to study the mechanism by which increasing unsaturation of dietary fat lowers HDL-cholesterol levels, we studied various measures of HDL metabolism in hamsters fed with fats with different degrees of saturation. Hamsters were fed on a cholesterol-enriched (1 g/kg) semipurified diet containing 200 g/kg of maize oil, olive oil, or palm oil for 9 weeks. Increasing saturation of dietary fat resulted in increasing concentrations of total plasma cholesterol (4·29 (SD 0·51), 5·30 (sd 0·67) and 5·58 (sd 0·76) mmol/l respectively, n 12) and HDL-cholesterol (3·31 (sd 0·50), 3·91 (sd 0·12) and 3·97 (sd 0·43) mmol/l) and these concentrations were significantly higher (P < 0·05) in the palm-oil and olive-oil-fed hamsters compared with the maize-oil group. Total plasma triacylglycerol levels also increased with increasing fat saturation (1·01 (sd 0·59), 1·56 (sd 0·65) and 2·75 (sd 1·03) mmol/l) and were significantly higher (P < 0·05) in the palm-oil group compared with the olive-oil and maize-oil-fed hamsters. The three diets did not have differential effects on plasma activity levels of lecithin: cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) and cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP). Levels of phospholipid transfer protein (PLTP) tended to be higher with increasing fat saturation but this effect was not significant. The capacity of liver membranes to bind human HDL3 was significantly higher (P < 0·05) in the hamsters fed with maize oil (810 (sd 100) ng HDL3 protein/mg membrane protein, n 4) compared with those fed on palm oil (655 (sd 56) ng/mg), whereas the olive-oil group had intermediate values (674 (sd 26) ng/mg). The affinity of HDL3 for the binding sites was not affected by the type of dietary fat. Hepatic lipase (EC activity, measured in liver homogenates, increased with increasing fat saturation. We conclude that dietary maize oil, when compared with either olive oil or palm oil, may lower HDL-cholesterol concentrations by enhancing HDL binding to liver membranes.

(Received February 02 1999)

(Revised July 26 1999)

(Accepted August 16 1999)


c1 *Corresponding author: Dr A. H. M. Terpstra, fax +31 30 253 7997, email