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Before the menopause, women are relatively protected against CVD compared with men. The reasons for this sex difference are not completely understood, but hepatic fatty acid metabolism may play a role. The present study aimed to investigate the utilisation of plasma NEFA by the liver and to determine whether they are partitioned differently into ketone bodies and VLDL-TAG in healthy, lean young men and women. Volunteers were studied during a prolonged overnight fast (12-19 h) using an intravenous infusion of [U-¹³C]palmitate. After 12 h fasting, the women had a more advantageous metabolic profile with lower plasma glucose (P < 0·05) and TAG (P < 0·05) but higher plasma NEFA (P < 0·05) concentrations. Plasma 3-hydroxybutyrate (3-OHB) concentrations rose more in women than in men, and the transfer of ¹³C from [U-¹³C]palmitate to plasma [¹³C]3-OHB reached a plateau 6-7 h after the start of the infusion in women but was still increasing at 6 h in men. This implies a slower 3-OHB production rate and/or dilution by other precursor pools in men. In women, the high isotopic enrichment of plasma 3-OHB suggested that systemic plasma fatty acids were the major source of 3-OHB production. However, in men, this was not observed during the course of the study (P < 0·01). There were no sex differences for the incorporation of ¹³C into VLDL1- or VLDL2-TAG. The ability of young women to partition fatty acids towards ketone body production rather than VLDL-TAG may contribute to their more advantageous metabolic profile compared with young men.

Original publication

DOI

10.1017/S0007114510004472

Type

Journal article

Journal

Br J Nutr

Publication Date

03/2011

Volume

105

Pages

857 - 865

Keywords

3-Hydroxybutyric Acid, Adult, Blood Glucose, Carbon Isotopes, Dietary Fats, Fasting, Fatty Acids, Nonesterified, Female, Humans, Lipoproteins, VLDL, Liver, Male, Palmitic Acid, Postprandial Period, Premenopause, Sex Factors, Triglycerides, Young Adult