Chylomicrons (CM), secreted by the intestine in response to fat ingestion and to a lesser extent during the postabsorptive state (lipid poor CM), are the major vehicles whereby ingested lipids are transported to and partitioned in energy-storing and energy-utilizing tissues of the body. CM contribute significantly, although not exclusively, to postprandial lipemia. Intestinal CM production is upregulated in humans under conditions of insulin resistance and CM overproduction in such conditions contributes to the highly prevalent dyslipidemia of these conditions. In addition, CM remnants possess direct atherogenic properties. CM assembly and secretion is regulated by many factors apart from ingested fat (the primary stimulus for their secretion), including a number of nutritional, hormonal, metabolic and genetic factors. Understanding the mechanisms that regulate CM production in health and disease may lead to treatments and prevention of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. This review aims to summarize current understanding of CM production in humans. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Triglyceride Metabolism and Disease.
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