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Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2013 Jan;23(1):61-7. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2011.02.011. Epub 2011 Sep 21.

Metabolism of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins and transfer of lipids to high-density lipoproteins (HDL) in vegan and omnivore subjects.

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Lipid Metabolism Laboratory, Heart Institute, University of São Paulo Medical School, São Paulo, Brazil.



Vegan diet excludes all foodstuffs of animal origin and leads to cholesterol lowering and possibly reduction of cardiovascular disease risk. The aim was to investigate whether vegan diet improves the metabolic pathway of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, consisting in lipoprotein lipolysis and removal from circulation of the resulting remnants and to verify whether the diet alters HDL metabolism by changing lipid transfers to this lipoprotein.


21 vegan and 29 omnivores eutrophic and normolipidemic subjects were intravenously injected triglyceride-rich emulsions labeled with (14)C-cholesterol oleate and (3)H-triolein: fractional clearance rates (FCR, in min(-1)) were calculated from samples collected during 60 min for radioactive counting. Lipid transfer to HDL was assayed by incubating plasma samples with a donor nanoemulsion labeled with radioactive lipids; % lipids transferred to HDL were quantified in supernatant after chemical precipitation of non-HDL fractions and nanoemulsion. Serum LDL cholesterol was lower in vegans than in omnivores (2.1 ± 0.8, 2.7 ± 0.7 mmol/L, respectively, p < 0,05), but HDL cholesterol and triglycerides were equal. Cholesteryl ester FCR was greater in vegans than in omnivores (0.016 ± 0.012, 0.003 ± 0.003, p < 0.01), whereas triglyceride FCR was equal (0.024 ± 0.014, 0.030 ± 0.016, N.S.). Cholesteryl ester transfer to HDL was lower in vegans than in omnivores (2.7 ± 0.6, 3.5 ± 1.5%, p < 0,05). Free-cholesterol, triglyceride and phospholipid transfer were equal, as well as HDL size.


Remnant removal from circulation, estimated by cholesteryl oleate FCR was faster in vegans, but the lipolysis process, estimated by triglyceride FCR was equal. Increased removal of atherogenic remnants and diminution of cholesteryl ester transfer may favor atherosclerosis prevention by vegan diet.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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