High levels of insulin slows removal of chylomicrons from blood vessels.

A recent study suggests that high levels of intestinal chylomicron cholesterol could be the reason behind the estimated 50% of cardiovascular disease events that occur in the presence of normal LDL cholesterol levels.

Nutritional scientists at the University of Alberta established a connection between high insulin levels and dysfunction of intestinal lipid metabolism in an animal model. They believe that impaired intestinal metabolic function plays a critical role in the development of cardiovascular disease.

The investigators found that the excessive insulin slows the removal of chylomicrons, large lipoproteins, from the blood stream following a fatty meal. Chylomicrons transport dietary fat from the intestine to the rest of the body. Excessive insulin appears to alter the mechanics of blood vessel walls, allowing chylomicrons and cholesterol to build up in them.

These findings imply that testing patients for have high chylomicrons could allow them to take advantage of dietary manipulation and emerging drugs that can target intestinal cholesterol and perhaps improve chylomicron metabolism to prevent heart disease, states Donna Vine, Ph.D., a nutritional scientist and co-author of the paper. The research was published in Atherosclerosis.

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