Age-matched Watanabe (WHHL) and New Zealand White (NZW) rabbits were fed a coconut oil-enriched diet (14%, w/w) for 2 weeks. Lipid and apolipoprotein (apo) A-I levels in plasma and lipoprotein fractions were monitored. Within 3 days after the start of the coconut oil diet, plasma apo A-I and high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-apo A-I levels increased 3-fold in the WHHL rabbits. A smaller but significant increase (63%) in apo A-I and HDL-apo A-I levels was also observed in the NZW rabbits. HDL cholesterol levels also increased from 16 +/- 3 mg/dl during a regular diet to 46 +/- 16 mg/dl (288%) during the coconut oil diet in the WHHL rabbits and from 37 +/- 7 mg/dl to 69 +/- 19 mg/dl (186%), respectively, in the NZW rabbits. Apo A-I and HDL cholesterol levels fell sharply to the original levels soon after switching back to a regular diet (within 3 days for WHHL rabbits and within 5 days for NZW rabbits). The fractional catabolic rate calculated from 125I-HDL kinetic studies indicated that the turnover rate for HDL was significantly slower in WHHL rabbits fed the coconut oil diet than the control diet (0.018 +/- 0.004 h-1 vs. 0.027 +/- 0.007 h-1, P less than 0.01). No changes were found in the NZW rabbits fed either diet. Trilaurin, the main component of the coconut oil (46.9%) supplemented diet (6.5%, w/w), was also used in this study. The effect of trilaurin on plasma apo A-I and HDL-cholesterol levels is discussed.
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