British Journal of Nutrition

Effects of meals on plasma lipids

Fasting plasma triacylglycerol concentrations predict adverse changes in lipoprotein metabolism after a normal meal

Jennifer L. Pottsa1, Sandy M. Humphreysa1, Simon W. Coppacka1 p1, Rachel M. Fishera1, Geoffrey F. Gibbonsa2 and Keith N. Fraya1

a1 Oxford Lipid Metabolism Group, Sheikh Rashid Laboratory, Radclifle Infirmary, Oxford OX2 6HE

a2 Metabolic Research Laboratory, Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, Radclifle Infirmary, Oxford OX2 6HE


The changes in lipoprotein metabolism which follow the ingestion of a large fat load have been well described. The hypothesis was tested that similar changes in lipoprotein metabolism would occur after a relatively normal meal. Plasma and lipoprotein triacylglycerol, cholesterol and apolipoprotein concentrations were determined in twenty subjects (ten female) given a mixed meal containing approximately one-third of the daily intake of major nutrients in the typical Western diet. Fasting plasma triacylglycerol concentrations (range 0.38–2.70 mm/l) and the postprandial rise in plasma triacylglycerol varied considerably between subjects and were significantly associated (P < 0.01). The rise in plasma triacylglycerol corresponded to marked increases in the triacylglycerol concentration of the triacylglycerol-rich lipoproteins (TRL; chylomicrons and very-low-density lipoproteins). TRL cholesterol also increased after the meal. An increase in high-density-lipoprotein (HDL)-triacylglycerol following the meal was accompanied by a decrease in HDL-cholesterol concentration, presumably due to the action of the cholesteryl-ester transfer protein. The increases in HDL-triacylglycerol and in TRL- cholesterol were correlated with the postprandial rise in triacylglycerol in the TRL (P < 0.01). We conclude that potentially adverse changes occur in both triacylglycerol-rich and high-density lipoproteins following a typical mixed meal, as they do after large fat loads. The changes are exaggerated in those subjects with greater fasting plasma triacylglycerol concentrations.

(Received August 02 1993)

(Revised November 08 1993)

(Accepted November 09 1993)


p1 Department of Medicine, University College London Medical School, Archway Wing, Whittington Hospital, Highgate Hill, London N19 3UA.


† For reprints.