Background: HDL that contains apolipoprotein E (apoE) is a subspecies especially active in steps in reverse cholesterol transport, a process that brings cholesterol from peripheral cells to the liver. Here, we studied the effect of dietary unsaturated fat compared with carbohydrate on the metabolism of HDL containing apoE.
Methods: We enrolled 9 adults who were overweight or obese and had below-average HDL-cholesterol in a crossover study of a high-fat diet, primarily unsaturated, and a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. A metabolic tracer study was performed after each diet period.
Results: Dietary fat increased the secretion, metabolism, and clearance of HDL subspecies containing apoE. Dietary fat increased the rate of clearance of large cholesterol-rich HDL containing apoE and increased their conversion to small HDL containing apoE, indicating selective cholesterol ester delivery to the liver. The high-unsaturated-fat diet did not affect the metabolism of HDL lacking apoE.
Conclusion: HDL containing apoE is a diet-responsive metabolic pathway that renders HDL more biologically active in reverse cholesterol transport. This may be a mechanism by which unsaturated fat protects against coronary heart disease. Protein-based HDL subspecies such as HDL containing apoE may be used to identify additional atheroprotective treatment targets not evident in the total HDL-cholesterol measurement.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01399632.
Funding: NIH and the National Center for Advancing Translational Science.
Keywords: Lipoproteins; Metabolism.