What is the biological composition of triglycerides?

Updated: Jul 23, 2021
  • Author: Mary Ellen T Sweeney, MD; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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Answer

Triglycerides are fats consisting of 3 fatty acids covalently bonded to a glycerol molecule. These fats are synthesized by the liver or, in the case of those derived from dietary sources, are ingested by the liver (as described below); the triglycerides are subsequently transported throughout the circulation by triglyceride-rich lipoproteins.

By dry weight, triglycerides make up approximately 86%, 55%, and 23% of chylomicrons, very low-density lipoproteins (VLDLs), and intermediate-density lipoproteins (IDLs), respectively, [5] as represented in the image below. Triglycerides are present in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), but in much smaller quantities of 10% or less.

The following image shows composition of triglyceride-rich proteins.

Composition of triglyceride (TG)-rich lipoproteins Composition of triglyceride (TG)-rich lipoproteins. IDL = intermediate-density lipoprotein; VLDL = very low-density lipoprotein.

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