Plasma levels of human neurotensin: Methodological and physiological considerations

C. F. Ferris, J. K. George, G. Eastwood, M. Potegal, R. E. Carraway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The ingestion of a meal high in fat content is known to increase circulating levels of neurotensin (NT) in humans. However, the magnitude of the postprandial rise of NT in the general circulation and its physiological significance have been subjects of much debate. The present study examines circulating levels of NT in male volunteers prior to and following each of their three daily meals (ca. 31 g fat/meal). The responses observed are also compared to that elicited by the direct instillation of intralipid (ca. 44 g fat) into the duodenum. NT levels were determined by radioimmunoassay of acid/acetone extracted plasma fractionated by high pressure liquid chromatography. Meals caused a significant but modest increase in NT levels, with the largest increment (ca. 4 fmol/ml) occurring after breakfast. In contrast, NT levels increased ca. 20 fmol/ml with intraduodenal instillation of lipid. The meal-stimulated increases in circulating NT measured here are 4- to 5-fold less than those reported by others, the difference most likely reflecting the lesser amount of lipid ingested. Previous studies provided subjects with single meals containing in excess of 120 g of fat; the 30 g of fat ingested by our subjects, ca. 33% of total caloric intake, is near that recommended by the U.S. Senate, Select Committee on Nutritional and Human Needs. These data show that diets with a reasonable fat content have only a modest effect on circulating levels of NT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-220
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1991

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institute of Health Grant AM-28565 (to R. E. Can-away).


  • Diurnal rhythm
  • Fatty diet
  • Gastrointestinal peptide
  • Neurotensin metabolites
  • Site-specific
  • Small intestine

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