The metabolism of synthetic peptide analogues of high density lipoprotein (HDL) apoproteins has been studied in the rat. These compounds are 15-amino acid lipid associating peptides (LAPs) bearing acyl chains of various lengths (0-16 carbon units). After injection of each 125I-LAP, the serum decay curves suggested a two-compartment process with a clearance rate decreasing when the acyl chain lengths increased. The similarity between the apparent half-life of C16-LAP and that of apoprotein A-I as well as the chromatographic analysis of rat serum were consistent with a partitioning of the LAPs between HDL and the aqueous phase. This was strongly dependent upon the acyl chain length of the LAPs. The distribution volumes of the 125I-LAPs in organs were measured 10 min after injection. The results were analyzed using a model explicitly predicting the organ distribution volumes of HDL and the equilibrium constant (K(eq)) of the binding of each LAP to HDL. HDL distributed significantly in the adrenals (250 μl/g), liver (80 μl/g), and ovaries (55 μl/g), but not in the kidneys. This suggests that the binding of HDL apoproteins to kidneys, reported by others, was due to the uptake of free apoproteins. The K(eqs) exhibited a log-linear relationship with respect to the acyl chain length of the LAPs. Each carbon unit added to the acyl chain decreased the free energy of association by a constant value (0.3 kcal mol-1). This clearly showed a strict hydrophobic effect similar to that previously observed in vitro.
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