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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Emerging Cardiovascular Risk Markers (retired 12/6/2013). Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Transport of Lipophilic Substances

Many lipophilic substances, including fat-soluble vitamins, cholesterol, and triglycerides are essential for life. The body needs to be able to absorb and transport these substances. However, lipophilic substances are not water-soluble, and, since blood is aqueous, this presents a challenge. The body addresses this need by using 'carriers' which can bind or sequester lipophilic molecules to aqueous 'vehicles' and thus transport them through the aqueous environment of the blood. Small lipid-soluble hormone molecules like estrogen, testosterone or cortisone are carried through the blood by binding to carrier proteins.

Cholesterol and triglycerides are carried through the body in small spherical particles which trap the lipophilic molecules in their centers. These particles have an outer shell that is polar on the surface so that the particles are soluble in the blood but they have a lipophilic core which can hold fat-soluble molecules.