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J Lipid Res. 1987 Apr;28(4):423-36.

Secretion of lipids, apolipoproteins, and lipoproteins by human hepatoma cell line, HepG2: effects of oleic acid and insulin.


The aim of this study was to determine the effect of oleic acid and insulin on the secretion of lipoproteins by HepG2 cells grown in minimum essential medium. Triglycerides were the major neutral lipid (57% of total) and apoB was the predominant apolipoprotein (56% of total) secreted by these cells. The addition of oleate resulted in a two-fold increase in the concentration of neutral lipids but only a slight to moderate increase in the apolipoprotein (A-I, A-II, B, and E) levels. The secretion of very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) was stimulated by 425%, low density lipoproteins (LDL) by 77%, and high density lipoproteins (HDL) by 68%. Whereas neutral lipid composition of LDL was unchanged, the VLDL particles contained a significantly higher percentage of triglyceride and lower percentages of cholesterol and cholesteryl esters compared with VLDL secreted in the absence of oleate. Oleate had no significant effect on the composition of apolipoproteins in VLDL, LDL and HDL. In basal medium, insulin caused a significant decrease in the secretion of neutral lipids and apolipoproteins, particularly triglycerides and apoB. In addition to a 60-68% reduction in the total concentration of VLDL and LDL, insulin altered their composition by producing particles that had a significantly lower content of triglycerides, contained less apoB, and were deficient in apoE. There were no major changes in the concentration or composition of HDL particles. Insulin had a similar but less pronounced effect on the concentration and composition of lipoproteins secreted in the presence of oleate. The increased accumulation of triglycerides in the HepG2 cells concomitant with their reduced levels in the medium suggests that insulin may affect the secretion rather than synthesis of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins.

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