The average diet may provide some 8–10 g/day of unsaturated fatty acids with a trans double bond. Previous studies showed that dietary trans fatty acids may simultaneously raise low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and reduce high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Human plasma contains a protein (CETP) which transfers cholesterylesters from HDL to lipoproteins of lower density. We hypothesized that CETP could play a role in the effect of trans fatty acids on lipoproteins and measured the activity levels of CETP in serum samples from a 9-week study in which 55 volunteers were fed three controlled diets with different fatty acid profiles. Mean activity was 114 (% of reference serum) after consumption of a high trans fatty acid diet, as opposed to 96 after linoleic acid and 97 after stearic acid (P < 0.02). We conclude that the increased activity of CETP may contribute to the rise in LDL cholesterol and the fall in HDL cholesterol seen on diets with high contents of trans fatty acids.

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Department of Biochemistry

van Tol, A., Zock, J. P., van Gent, T., Scheek, L., & Katan, M. (1995). Dietary trans fatty acids increase serum cholesterylester transfer protein activity in man. Atherosclerosis, 115(1), 129–134. doi:10.1016/0021-9150(94)05509-H