The kinetics of transfer of natural and fluorescent nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA) and lysolecithins (lysoPC) from phospholipid and protein surfaces were measured. The kinetics of transfer of 12-(1 -pyrenyl)dodecanoic acid, from liquid crystalline and gel phase single unilamellar phospholipid vesicles, very low, low, and high density lipoproteins, human serum albumin, and rat liver fatty acid-binding protein, were first-order and characterized by similar rate constants. The halftimes (t 1/4 ) of NEFA transfer from lipids and proteins were dependent on the acyl chain structure according to log t 1/4 = -0.62n + 0.59m + 12.0, where n and m, respectively, are the numbers of carbon atoms and double bonds. The structure of the donor surface had a measurable but smaller effect on transfer rates. The kinetics of NEFA and lysoPC transfer are slow relative to the lipolytic processes that liberate them. Therefore, one would predict a transient accumulation of NEFA and lysoPC during lipolysis and an attendant modulation of many metabolic processes within living cells and within the plasma compartment of blood. These data will be useful in the refinement of current models of membrane and lipoprotein function and in the selection of fluorescent NEFA analogs for studying transport in living cells.
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