VEGFR-3 Signaling Regulates Triglyceride Retention and Absorption in the Intestine

Trevor Shew, Nathan E. Wolins, Vincenza Cifarelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The lymphatic system transports dietary lipids absorbed and packaged as chylomicrons by enterocytes, for delivery to the bloodstream. Once considered a passive drainage, chylomicron entry into intestinal lymphatic vessels, or lacteals, is now emerging to be an active process controlled by a dynamic and complex regulation. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-C, a major lymphangiogenic factor, regulates lacteal maintenance and function. Little is known about the role of its cognate tyrosine kinase VEGF receptor 3 (VEGFR-3) during lipid absorption. Here we investigated role of VEGFR-3 signaling in triglyceride (TG) absorption and distribution into tissues using the Chy mouse model, which bears an inactivating mutation in the tyrosine kinase domain of VEGFR-3 (heterozygous A3157T mutation resulting in I1053F substitution). Our data show that inactivation of VEGFR-3 tyrosine kinase motif leads to retention of TGs in the enterocytes of the small intestine, decreased postprandial levels of TGs in the plasma and increased excretion of free fatty acids (FFAs) and TGs into their stools. We further show that levels of nitric oxide (NO), required for chylomicron mobilization into the bloodstream, are significantly reduced in the Chy intestine after a fat bolus suggesting a critical role for VEGFR-3 signaling in the generation of NO during lipid absorption. Our data support the hypothesis that VEGFR-3 signaling plays an important role in chylomicron-TG entry into lacteals, possibly affecting TG trafficking to peripheral tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1783
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
StatePublished - Dec 11 2018


  • chylomicron
  • enterocytes
  • lacteals
  • lipid trafficking
  • nitric oxide
  • VEGFR-3


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