The sequential changes in lipid metabolism during tumor growth were evaluated in inbred Lewis rats bearing a mammary adenocarcinoma (AC33). Serum lipids, insulin, glucagon, and liver and adipose tissue lipogenic enzymes were measured in tumor-bearing and control rats after 6, 12, 18, 24, and 32 days of tumor growth. Lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity in heart, soleus muscle, and epididymal fat pads was also determined. On the sixth day, the activity of LPL was reduced in the adipose tissue and remained lower throughout the duration of the experiment. Serum triglycerides were elevated from the 12th day followed by an increase in free fatty acid levels from the 18th day of tumor growth. These changes were accompanied by a decrease in serum insulin levels in the tumor-bearing rats from Day 12. The presence of the tumor also decreased the activities of some of the lipogenic enzymes in liver and adipose tissue, but these changes occurred at the later time points. On the 24th day, a decrease in fat pad weights was found and characterized by a decrease in fat cell size but not in fat cell number. These results suggest that a defect in clearance, due to the decrease in the activity of adipose tissue LPL, may be responsible for the early development of hypertriglyceridemia during tumor growth. In this study, the alterations in the lipogenic enzymes and LPL cannot be attributed to reduced food intake but may be due to the direct or an indirect effect of the tumor on a hormone such as insulin.

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This study was supported in part by an award from the Office of the Dean, Jefferson Medical College.

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