Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disorder involving leukocytes and lipids. To study the relationship between leukocytes and lipids in vivo, leukocyte changes were determined in 14 healthy males (age, 23 +/- 3 years; body mass index [BMI], 21.9 +/- 1.5 kg/m(2)) after an 8-hour oral fat load (50 g/m(2)) and after water. The postprandial triglyceride (TG) increment after fat was paralleled by a leukocyte increment, due to an increase in neutrophils in the first 2 hours (142% +/- 69% higher than baseline, P =.04). Neutrophil counts did not return to baseline at the end of the test. Water ingestion did not induce significant neutrophil changes. Blood lymphocytes increased gradually in both tests (142% +/- 30% higher than baseline, P <.001 after fat, and 128% +/- 36%, P =.02 after water). The total leukocyte increment after fat ingestion was related to the postprandial TG increase (Spearman's r = 0.73, P =.003). An early postprandial, lipid-specific, neutrophil increment is a new characteristic of the postprandial phase. Future studies will elucidate the role of postprandial leukocyte changes in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.
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