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1.  Targeted lipidomics strategies for oxygenated metabolites of polyunsaturated fatty acids 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2014;1851(4):456-468.
Oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) through enzymatic or non-enzymatic free radical-mediated reactions can yield an array of lipid metabolites including eicosanoids, octadecanoids, docosanoids and related species. In mammals, these oxygenated PUFA mediators play prominent roles in the physiological and pathological regulation of many key biological processes in the cardiovascular, renal, reproductive and other systems including their pivotal contribution to inflammation. Mass spectrometry-based technology platforms have revolutionized our ability to analyze the complex mixture of lipid mediators found in biological samples, with increased numbers of metabolites that can be simultaneously quantified from a single sample in few analytical steps. The recent development of high-sensitivity and high-throughput analytical tools for lipid mediators affords a broader view of these oxygenated PUFA species, and facilitates research into their role in health and disease. In this review, we illustrate current analytical approaches for a high-throughput lipidomic analysis of eicosanoids and related mediators in biological samples.
PMCID: PMC4323855  PMID: 25486530
2.  Deficiency of Lipoprotein Lipase in Neurons Decreases AMPA Receptor Phosphorylation and Leads to Neurobehavioral Abnormalities in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(8):e0135113.
Alterations in lipid metabolism have been found in several neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease. Lipoprotein lipase (LPL) hydrolyzes triacylglycerides in lipoproteins and regulates lipid metabolism in multiple organs and tissues, including the central nervous system (CNS). Though many brain regions express LPL, the functions of this lipase in the CNS remain largely unknown. We developed mice with neuron-specific LPL deficiency that became obese on chow by 16 wks in homozygous mutant mice (NEXLPL-/-) and 10 mo in heterozygous mice (NEXLPL+/-). In the present study, we show that 21 mo NEXLPL+/- mice display substantial cognitive function decline including poorer learning and memory, and increased anxiety with no difference in general motor activities and exploratory behavior. These neurobehavioral abnormalities are associated with a reduction in the 2-amino-3-(3-hydroxy-5-methyl-isoxazol-4-yl) propanoic acid (AMPA) receptor subunit GluA1 and its phosphorylation, without any alterations in amyloid β accumulation. Importantly, a marked deficit in omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in the hippocampus precedes the development of the neurobehavioral phenotype of NEXLPL+/- mice. And, a diet supplemented with n-3 PUFA can improve the learning and memory of NEXLPL+/- mice at both 10 mo and 21 mo of age. We interpret these findings to indicate that LPL regulates the availability of PUFA in the CNS and, this in turn, impacts the strength of synaptic plasticity in the brain of aging mice through the modification of AMPA receptor and its phosphorylation.
PMCID: PMC4532501  PMID: 26263173
3.  Metabolic Phenotyping Reveals a Lipid Mediator Response to Ionizing Radiation 
Journal of Proteome Research  2014;13(9):4143-4154.
Exposure to ionizing radiation has dramatically increased in modern society, raising serious health concerns. The molecular response to ionizing radiation, however, is still not completely understood. Here, we screened mouse serum for metabolic alterations following an acute exposure to γ radiation using a multiplatform mass-spectrometry-based strategy. A global, molecular profiling revealed that mouse serum undergoes a series of significant molecular alterations following radiation exposure. We identified and quantified bioactive metabolites belonging to key biochemical pathways and low-abundance, oxygenated, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in the two groups of animals. Exposure to γ radiation induced a significant increase in the serum levels of ether phosphatidylcholines (PCs) while decreasing the levels of diacyl PCs carrying PUFAs. In exposed mice, levels of pro-inflammatory, oxygenated metabolites of arachidonic acid increased, whereas levels of anti-inflammatory metabolites of omega-3 PUFAs decreased. Our results indicate a specific serum lipidomic biosignature that could be utilized as an indicator of radiation exposure and as novel target for therapeutic intervention. Monitoring such a molecular response to radiation exposure might have implications not only for radiation pathology but also for countermeasures and personalized medicine.
PMCID: PMC4156265  PMID: 25126707
Omega-3 fatty acids; lipidomics; plasmalogens; prostaglandin; cytochrome P450
4.  Untargeted Metabolomics Reveals Predominant Alterations in Lipid Metabolism Following Light Exposure in Broccoli Sprouts 
The consumption of vegetables belonging to the family Brassicaceae (e.g., broccoli and cauliflower) is linked to a reduced incidence of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The molecular composition of such plants is strongly affected by growing conditions. Here we developed an unbiased metabolomics approach to investigate the effect of light and dark exposure on the metabolome of broccoli sprouts and we applied such an approach to provide a bird’s-eye view of the overall metabolic response after light exposure. Broccoli seeds were germinated and grown hydroponically for five days in total darkness or with a light/dark photoperiod (16 h light/8 h dark cycle). We used an ultra-performance liquid-chromatography system coupled to an ion-mobility, time-of-flight mass spectrometer to profile the large array of metabolites present in the sprouts. Differences at the metabolite level between groups were analyzed using multivariate statistical analyses, including principal component analysis and correlation analysis. Altered metabolites were identified by searching publicly available and in-house databases. Metabolite pathway analyses were used to support the identification of subtle but significant changes among groups of related metabolites that may have gone unnoticed with conventional approaches. Besides the chlorophyll pathway, light exposure activated the biosynthesis and metabolism of sterol lipids, prenol lipids, and polyunsaturated lipids, which are essential for the photosynthetic machinery. Our results also revealed that light exposure increased the levels of polyketides, including flavonoids, and oxylipins, which play essential roles in the plant’s developmental processes and defense mechanism against herbivores. This study highlights the significant contribution of light exposure to the ultimate metabolic phenotype, which might affect the cellular physiology and nutritional value of broccoli sprouts. Furthermore, this study highlights the potential of an unbiased omics approach for the comprehensive study of the metabolism.
PMCID: PMC4490517  PMID: 26084047
metabolomics; lipidomics; lipids; ion mobility; nutrition; sterol lipids; oxylipins
6.  Ion Mobility Derived Collision Cross Sections to Support Metabolomics Applications 
Analytical Chemistry  2014;86(8):3985-3993.
Metabolomics is a rapidly evolving analytical approach in life and health sciences. The structural elucidation of the metabolites of interest remains a major analytical challenge in the metabolomics workflow. Here, we investigate the use of ion mobility as a tool to aid metabolite identification. Ion mobility allows for the measurement of the rotationally averaged collision cross-section (CCS), which gives information about the ionic shape of a molecule in the gas phase. We measured the CCSs of 125 common metabolites using traveling-wave ion mobility-mass spectrometry (TW-IM-MS). CCS measurements were highly reproducible on instruments located in three independent laboratories (RSD < 5% for 99%). We also determined the reproducibility of CCS measurements in various biological matrixes including urine, plasma, platelets, and red blood cells using ultra performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) coupled with TW-IM-MS. The mean RSD was < 2% for 97% of the CCS values, compared to 80% of retention times. Finally, as proof of concept, we used UPLC–TW-IM-MS to compare the cellular metabolome of epithelial and mesenchymal cells, an in vitro model used to study cancer development. Experimentally determined and computationally derived CCS values were used as orthogonal analytical parameters in combination with retention time and accurate mass information to confirm the identity of key metabolites potentially involved in cancer. Thus, our results indicate that adding CCS data to searchable databases and to routine metabolomics workflows will increase the identification confidence compared to traditional analytical approaches.
PMCID: PMC4004193  PMID: 24640936
7.  Methamphetamine Accelerates Cellular Senescence through Stimulation of De Novo Ceramide Biosynthesis 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0116961.
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive psychostimulant that causes profound damage to the brain and other body organs. Post mortem studies of human tissues have linked the use of this drug to diseases associated with aging, such as coronary atherosclerosis and pulmonary fibrosis, but the molecular mechanism underlying these findings remains unknown. Here we used functional lipidomics and transcriptomics experiments to study abnormalities in lipid metabolism in select regions of the brain and, to a greater extent, peripheral organs and tissues of rats that self-administered methamphetamine. Experiments in various cellular models (primary mouse fibroblasts and myotubes) allowed us to investigate the molecular mechanisms of systemic inflammation and cellular aging related to methamphetamine abuse. We report now that methamphetamine accelerates cellular senescence and activates transcription of genes involved in cell-cycle control and inflammation by stimulating production of the sphingolipid messenger ceramide. This pathogenic cascade is triggered by reactive oxygen species, likely generated through methamphetamine metabolism via cytochrome P450, and involves the recruitment of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) to induce expression of enzymes in the de novo pathway of ceramide biosynthesis. Inhibitors of NF-κB signaling and ceramide formation prevent methamphetamine-induced senescence and systemic inflammation in rats self-administering the drug, attenuating their health deterioration. The results suggest new therapeutic strategies to reduce the adverse consequences of methamphetamine abuse and improve effectiveness of abstinence treatments.
PMCID: PMC4324822  PMID: 25671639
8.  PER2 Controls Lipid Metabolism by Direct Regulation of PPARγ 
Cell metabolism  2010;12(5):509-520.
Accumulating evidence highlights intriguing interplays between circadian and metabolic pathways. We show that PER2 directly and specifically represses PPARγ, a nuclear receptor critical in adipogenesis, insulin sensitivity and inflammatory response. PER2-deficient mice display altered lipid metabolism, with drastic reduction of total triacylglycerol and non-esterified fatty acids. PER2 exerts its inhibitory function by blocking PPARγ recruitment to target promoters and thereby transcriptional activation. Whole-genome microarray profiling demonstrates that PER2 dictates the specificity of PPARγ transcriptional activity. Indeed, lack of PER2 results in enhanced adipocyte differentiation of cultured fibroblasts. PER2 targets S112 in PPARγ, a residue whose mutation has been associated to altered lipid metabolism. Lipidomic profiling demonstrates that PER2 is necessary for normal lipid metabolism in white adipocyte tissue. Our findings support a scenario in which PER2 controls the pro-adipogenic activity of PPARγ by operating as its natural modulator, thereby revealing potential avenues of pharmacological and therapeutic intervention.
PMCID: PMC4103168  PMID: 21035761
9.  A Novel Approach for Processing LC – Ion Mobility – MS Metabolomics Data 
MS interfaced with LC and ion mobility (IM) is routinely used to measure the level and variation of metabolites within biofluids as data generated through metabolomics studies may yield insight into disease onset and progression. LC-IM-MS based metabolomics generates large and complex data sets with analysis and interpretation of the results being the rate determining steps. This has led to a demand for improved data analysis, including processing and advanced multivariate approaches, which are described for the large scale analysis of metabolomics datasets. Urine from a healthy individual was centrifuged and the supernatant diluted. The urine was divided into control, low dosed (LD) and high dosed (HD) groups. To create a sample set, 11 different drugs were differentially spiked into LD and HD urine, contrasted with blank urine. A reversed phase gradient was applied and MS data acquired in positive ion data independent (LC-DIA-MS) and mobility assisted data independent (LC-IM-DIA-MS) modes. Distinguishing biological variation and metabolic change from analytical interference is key to data processing and analysis. Samples were randomized and measured six times, including QC runs, to ensure statistically valid analysis. LC-MS data were retention time aligned and deconvoluted to produce a feature list. Identified features were compound searched and interrogated with multivariate statistics to provide marker ions of interest. Relative high abundance levels of the standards were reported for LD and HD compared to controls, confirmed by trend plots analysis showing an increase in LD and HD groups compared to control. The standards were identified with an average score of 91 and mass error of 1.2 ppm. Three sample clusters were produced with the standards being the most differentiating features (top 20 based on q value) between groups. Functionality of the software will be demonstrated using biological samples.
PMCID: PMC4162260
10.  A Protective Lipidomic Biosignature Associated with a Balanced Omega-6/Omega-3 Ratio in fat-1 Transgenic Mice 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e96221.
A balanced omega-6/omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) ratio has been linked to health benefits and the prevention of many chronic diseases. Current dietary intervention studies with different sources of omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3) lack appropriate control diets and carry many other confounding factors derived from genetic and environmental variability. In our study, we used the fat-1 transgenic mouse model as a proxy for long-term omega-3 supplementation to determine, in a well-controlled manner, the molecular phenotype associated with a balanced omega-6/omega-3 ratio. The fat-1 mouse can convert omega-6 to omega-3 PUFAs, which protect against a wide variety of diseases including chronic inflammatory diseases and cancer. Both wild-type (WT) and fat-1 mice were subjected to an identical diet containing 10% corn oil, which has a high omega-6 content similar to that of the Western diet, for a six-month duration. We used a multi-platform lipidomic approach to compare the plasma lipidome between fat-1 and WT mice. In fat-1 mice, an unbiased profiling showed a significant increase in the levels of unesterified eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), EPA-containing cholesteryl ester, and omega-3 lysophosphospholipids. The increase in omega-3 lipids is accompanied by a significant reduction in omega-6 unesterified docosapentaenoic acid (omega-6 DPA) and DPA-containing cholesteryl ester as well as omega-6 phospholipids and triacylglycerides. Targeted lipidomics profiling highlighted a remarkable increase in EPA-derived diols and epoxides formed via the cytochrome P450 (CYP450) pathway in the plasma of fat-1 mice compared with WT mice. Integration of the results of untargeted and targeted analyses has identified a lipidomic biosignature that may underlie the healthful phenotype associated with a balanced omega-6/omega-3 ratio, and can potentially be used as a circulating biomarker for monitoring the health status and the efficacy of omega-3 intervention in humans.
PMCID: PMC3997567  PMID: 24760204
11.  An amyloid β42-dependent deficit in anandamide mobilization is associated with cognitive dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease 
Neurobiology of Aging  2011;33(8):1522-1532.
The endocannabinoids and their attending CB1 cannabinoid receptors have been implicated in the control of cognition, but their possible roles in dementias are still unclear. In the present study, we used liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry to conduct an endocannabinoid-targeted lipidomic analysis of post mortem brain samples from 38 Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients and 17 control subjects, matched for age and post mortem interval. The analysis revealed that midfrontal and temporal cortex tissue from AD patients contains, relative to control subjects, significantly lower levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide and its precursor 1-stearoyl, 2-docosahexaenoyl-sn-glycero-phosphoethanolamine-N-arachidonoyl (NArPE). No such difference was observed with the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoyl-sn-glycerol or 15 additional lipid species. In AD patients, but not in control subjects, statistically detectable positive correlations were found between (a) anandamide content in midfrontal cortex and scores of the Kendrick’s digit copying test (P=0.004, r=0.81; n=10), which measures speed of information processing; and (b) anandamide content in temporal cortex and scores of the Boston naming test (P=0.027, r=0.52; n=18), which assesses language facility. Furthermore, anandamide and NArPE levels in midfrontal cortex of the study subjects inversely correlated with levels of the neurotoxic amyloid peptide, Aβ42, while showing no association with Aβ40 levels, amyloid plaque load or tau protein phosphorylation. Finally, high endogenous levels of Aβ42 in APPSWE/Neuro-2a cells directly reduced anandamide and NArPE concentrations in cells lysates. The results suggest that an Aβ42-dependent impairment in brain anandamide mobilization contributes to cognitive dysfunction in AD.
PMCID: PMC3154439  PMID: 21546126
endocannabinoid; anandamide; amyloid β42; cognitive dysfunction; Alzheimer’s disease; human brain; lipidomics
12.  2-arachidonoylglycerol signaling in forebrain regulates systemic energy metabolism 
Cell metabolism  2012;15(3):299-310.
The endocannabinoid system plays a critical role in the control of energy homeostasis, but the identity and localization of the endocannabinoid signal involved remain unknown. In the present study we developed transgenic mice that over-express in forebrain neurons the presynaptic hydrolase, monoacylglycerol lipase (MGL), which deactivates the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoyl-sn-glycerol (2-AG). MGL-overexpressing mice show a 50 percent decrease in forebrain 2-AG levels, but no overt compensation in other endocannabinoid components. This biochemical abnormality is accompanied by a series of metabolic changes that include leanness, elevated energy cost of activity and hypersensitivity to β3-adrenergic-stimulated thermogenesis, which is corrected by reinstating 2-AG activity at CB1-cannabinoid receptors. Additionally, the mutant mice are resistant to diet-induced obesity and express high levels of thermogenic proteins, such as uncoupling protein-1, in their brown adipose tissue. The results suggest that 2-AG signaling through CB1 regulates the activity of forebrain neural circuits involved in the control of energy dissipation.
PMCID: PMC3729112  PMID: 22405068
13.  Towards a whole-body systems [multi-organ] lipidomics in Alzheimer's disease 
Preclinical and clinical evidence suggests that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid derived from diet or synthesized in the liver, decreases the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD). DHA levels are reduced in the brain of subjects with AD, but it is still unclear whether human dementias are associated with dysregulations of DHA metabolism. A systems biological view of omega-3 fatty acid metabolism offered unexpected insights on the regulation of DHA homeostasis in AD1. Results of multi-organ lipidomic analyses were integrated with clinical and gene-expression data sets to develop testable hypotheses on the functional significance of lipid abnormalities observed and on their possible mechanistic bases. One surprising outcome of this integrative approach was the discovery that the liver of AD patients has a limited capacity to convert shorter chain omega-3 fatty acids into DHA due to a deficit in the peroxisomal D-bifunctional protein. This deficit may contribute to the decrease in brain DHA levels and contribute to cognitive impairment.
PMCID: PMC3161165  PMID: 21543199
14.  Effects of diet & behavioral enrichment on free fatty acids in the aged canine brain 
Neuroscience  2011;202:326-333.
Despite several recent studies suggesting that dysregulation of brain lipid metabolism might contribute to the mechanisms of aging and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), lipid metabolism has not been evaluated extensively in the aging brain. Here, we use a lipidomic approach to demonstrate that antioxidants plus mitochondrial cofactors treatment, either alone or in combination with behavioral enrichment, attenuates lipid abnormalities in the frontal cortices of aged canine in a manner correlated with cognitive scores. Our analyses revealed that the levels of free palmitoleic acid and nervonic acid were decreased in frontal cortices of aged dogs (n=5-6/group) treated with antioxidant compared to the control group. The monounsaturated/saturated fatty acid ratio, also known as ‘desaturation index’ - an ex-vivo indicator of stearoyl-CoA desaturase activity, was also reduced in the frontal cortex of dogs treated with antioxidants compared to control groups. Increased palmitoleic acid levels and desaturation index were positively correlated with increased reversal learning errors and decreased cognitive performance. In conclusion, our study indicates that the addition of antioxidants and mitochondrial cofactors to the regular diet alters the composition of free fatty acids in the aged brain. Together with data showing increased palmitoleic acid levels in AD patients, our data suggest that reducing palmitoleic acid levels and desaturation index in the brain may be associated with improved cognitive performance.
PMCID: PMC3447971  PMID: 22183056
Lipids; canine; aging; Alzheimer’s disease; SCD; frontal cortex
16.  Endocannabinoid Regulation of Acute and Protracted Nicotine Withdrawal: Effect of FAAH Inhibition 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e28142.
Evidence shows that the endocannabinoid system modulates the addictive properties of nicotine. In the present study, we hypothesized that spontaneous withdrawal resulting from removal of chronically implanted transdermal nicotine patches is regulated by the endocannabinoid system. A 7-day nicotine dependence procedure (5.2 mg/rat/day) elicited occurrence of reliable nicotine abstinence symptoms in Wistar rats. Somatic and affective withdrawal signs were observed at 16 and 34 hours following removal of nicotine patches, respectively. Further behavioral manifestations including decrease in locomotor activity and increased weight gain also occurred during withdrawal. Expression of spontaneous nicotine withdrawal was accompanied by fluctuation in levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA) in several brain structures including the amygdala, the hippocampus, the hypothalamus and the prefrontal cortex. Conversely, levels of 2-arachidonoyl-sn-glycerol were not significantly altered. Pharmacological inhibition of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), the enzyme responsible for the intracellular degradation of AEA, by URB597 (0.1 and 0.3 mg/kg, i.p.), reduced withdrawal-induced anxiety as assessed by the elevated plus maze test and the shock-probe defensive burying paradigm, but did not prevent the occurrence of somatic signs. Together, the results indicate that pharmacological strategies aimed at enhancing endocannabinoid signaling may offer therapeutic advantages to treat the negative affective state produced by nicotine withdrawal, which is critical for the maintenance of tobacco use.
PMCID: PMC3227620  PMID: 22140525
17.  Elevated Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase in Brains of Patients with Alzheimer's Disease 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e24777.
The molecular bases of Alzheimer's disease (AD) remain unclear. We used a lipidomic approach to identify lipid abnormalities in the brains of subjects with AD (N = 37) compared to age-matched controls (N = 17). The analyses revealed statistically detectable elevations in levels of non-esterified monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and mead acid (20:3n-9) in mid-frontal cortex, temporal cortex and hippocampus of AD patients. Further studies showed that brain mRNAs encoding for isoforms of the rate-limiting enzyme in MUFAs biosynthesis, stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD-1, SCD-5a and SCD-5b), were elevated in subjects with AD. The monounsaturated/saturated fatty acid ratio (‘desaturation index’) – displayed a strong negative correlation with measures of cognition: the Mini Mental State Examination test (r = −0.80; P = 0.0001) and the Boston Naming test (r = −0.57; P = 0.0071). Our results reveal a previously unrecognized role for the lipogenic enzyme SCD in AD.
PMCID: PMC3202527  PMID: 22046234
18.  Sympathetic activity controls fat-induced OEA signaling in small intestine 
Ingestion of dietary fat stimulates production of the small-intestinal satiety factors oleoylethanolamide (OEA) and N-palmitoyl-phosphatidylethanolamine (NPPE), which reduce food intake through a combination of local (OEA) and systemic (NPPE) actions. Previous studies have shown that sympathetic innervation of the gut is necessary for duodenal infusions of fat to induce satiety, suggesting that sympathetic activity may engage small-intestinal satiety signals such as OEA and NPPE. In the present study, we show that surgical resection of the sympathetic celiac superior mesenteric ganglion, which sends projections to the upper gut, abolishes feeding-induced OEA production in rat small-intestinal cells. These effects are accounted for by suppression of OEA biosynthesis, and are mimicked by administration of the selective β2-adrenergic receptor antagonist, ICI-118,551. We further show that sympathetic ganglionectomy or pharmacological blockade of β2-adrenergic receptors prevents NPPE release into the circulation. In addition, sympathetic ganglionectomy increases meal frequency and lowers satiety ratio, and these effects are corrected by pharmacological administration of OEA. The results suggest that sympathetic activity controls fat-induced satiety by enabling the coordinated production of local (OEA) and systemic (NPPE) satiety signals in the small intestine.
PMCID: PMC3084524  PMID: 21490214
Oleoylethanolamide; N-palmitoyl-phosphatidylethanolamine; sympathetic; feeding
19.  Dietary and Behavioral Interventions Protect against Age Related Activation of Caspase Cascades in the Canine Brain 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24652.
Lifestyle interventions such as diet, exercise, and cognitive training represent a quietly emerging revolution in the modern approach to counteracting age-related declines in brain health. Previous studies in our laboratory have shown that long-term dietary supplementation with antioxidants and mitochondrial cofactors (AOX) or behavioral enrichment with social, cognitive, and exercise components (ENR), can effectively improve cognitive performance and reduce brain pathology of aged canines, including oxidative damage and Aβ accumulation. In this study, we build on and extend our previous findings by investigating if the interventions reduce caspase activation and ceramide accumulation in the aged frontal cortex, since caspase activation and ceramide accumulation are common convergence points for oxidative damage and Aβ, among other factors associated with the aged and AD brain. Aged beagles were placed into one of four treatment groups: CON – control environment/control diet, AOX– control environment/antioxidant diet, ENR – enriched environment/control diet, AOX/ENR– enriched environment/antioxidant diet for 2.8 years. Following behavioral testing, brains were removed and frontal cortices were analyzed to monitor levels of active caspase 3, active caspase 9 and their respective cleavage products such as tau and semaphorin7a, and ceramides. Our results show that levels of activated caspase-3 were reduced by ENR and AOX interventions with the largest reduction occurring with combined AOX/ENR group. Further, reductions in caspase-3 correlated with reduced errors in a reversal learning task, which depends on frontal cortex function. In addition, animals treated with an AOX arm showed reduced numbers of cells expressing active caspase 9 or its cleavage product semaphorin 7A, while ENR (but not AOX) reduced ceramide levels. Overall, these data demonstrate that lifestyle interventions curtail activation of pro-degenerative pathways to improve cellular health and are the first to show that lifestyle interventions can regulate caspase pathways in a higher animal model of aging.
PMCID: PMC3172245  PMID: 21931796
20.  CD36 gene deletion decreases oleoylethanolamide levels in small intestine of free-feeding mice 
Oleoylethanolamide (OEA) is an endogenous lipid mediator that decreases food intake and enhances lipid catabolism. Dietary fat stimulates OEA mobilization in the proximal small intestine, through a mechanism that requires the participation of the membrane glycoprotein CD36 (fatty acid translocase, FAT). CD36 is highly expressed in small-intestinal enterocytes and is involved in fatty acid uptake and intracellular signaling. Here, we analyze the impact of genetic CD36 deletion on OEA production in various mouse tissues under free-feeding conditions and at different times of the light/dark cycle. CD36 ablation decreases OEA levels in jejunum and plasma during the dark phase, when mice consume most of their daily food. CD36 deletion is also associated with reduced OEA levels in kidney, but not in other tissues including duodenum, stomach, adrenals, white and brown fat, heart, liver, pancreas, skeletal muscle and brain. The results underscore the important role of CD36 in jejunal OEA production linked to feeding.
PMCID: PMC2846762  PMID: 19778614
CD36; feeding; oleoylethanolamide; small intestine
21.  Lipidomic analysis of endocannabinoid metabolism in biological samples 
The endocannabinoids are signaling lipids present in many living organisms. They activate G protein-coupled cannabinoid receptors to modulate a broad range of biological processes that include emotion, cognition, inflammation and reproduction. The endocannabinoids are embedded in an interconnected network of cellular lipid pathways, the regulation of which is likely to control the strength and duration of endocannabinoid signals. Therefore, physiopathological or pharmacological perturbations of these pathways may indirectly affect endocannabinoid activity and, vice versa, endocannabinoid activity may influence lipid pathways involved in other metabolic and signaling events. Recent progress in liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry has fueled the development of targeted lipidomic approaches, which allow researchers to examine complex lipid interactions in cells and gain a broader view of the endocannabinoid system. Here, we review these new developments from the perspective of our laboratory’s experience in the field.
PMCID: PMC2723187  PMID: 19171504
lipidomics; anandamide; 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG); N-acyl phosphatidylethanolamine (NAPE); fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH); diacylglycerol (DAG); triacylglycerol (TAG); arachidonic acid; prostaglandin
22.  Deficient Liver Biosynthesis of Docosahexaenoic Acid Correlates with Cognitive Impairment in Alzheimer's Disease 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e12538.
Reduced brain levels of docosahexaenoic acid (C22:6n-3), a neurotrophic and neuroprotective fatty acid, may contribute to cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease. Here, we investigated whether the liver enzyme system that provides docosahexaenoic acid to the brain is dysfunctional in this disease. Docosahexaenoic acid levels were reduced in temporal cortex, mid-frontal cortex and cerebellum of subjects with Alzheimer's disease, compared to control subjects (P = 0.007). Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores positively correlated with docosahexaenoic/α-linolenic ratios in temporal cortex (P = 0.005) and mid-frontal cortex (P = 0.018), but not cerebellum. Similarly, liver docosahexaenoic acid content was lower in Alzheimer's disease patients than control subjects (P = 0.011). Liver docosahexaenoic/α-linolenic ratios correlated positively with MMSE scores (r = 0.78; P<0.0001), and negatively with global deterioration scale grades (P = 0.013). Docosahexaenoic acid precursors, including tetracosahexaenoic acid (C24:6n-3), were elevated in liver of Alzheimer's disease patients (P = 0.041), whereas expression of peroxisomal d-bifunctional protein, which catalyzes the conversion of tetracosahexaenoic acid into docosahexaenoic acid, was reduced (P = 0.048). Other genes involved in docosahexaenoic acid metabolism were not affected. The results indicate that a deficit in d-bifunctional protein activity impairs docosahexaenoic acid biosynthesis in liver of Alzheimer's disease patients, lessening the flux of this neuroprotective fatty acid to the brain.
PMCID: PMC2935886  PMID: 20838618
23.  A Novel Lipidomic Strategy Reveals Plasma Phospholipid Signatures Associated with Respiratory Disease Severity in Cystic Fibrosis Patients 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(11):e7735.
The aim of this study was to search for lipid signatures in blood plasma from cystic fibrosis (CF) patients using a novel MALDI-TOF-ClinProTools™ strategy, initially developed for protein analysis, and thin layer chromatography coupled to MALDI-TOF (TLC-MALDI). Samples from 33 CF patients and 18 healthy children were subjected to organic extraction and column chromatography separation of lipid classes. Extracts were analyzed by MALDI-TOF, ion signatures were compared by the ClinProTools™ software and by parallel statistical analyses. Relevant peaks were identified by LC-MSn. The ensemble of analyses provided 11 and 4 peaks differentially displayed in CF vs healthy and in mild vs severe patients respectively. Ten ions were significantly decreased in all patients, corresponding to 4 lysophosphatidylcholine (18∶0, 18∶2, 20∶3, and 20∶5) and 6 phosphatidylcholine (36∶5, O-38∶0, 38∶4, 38∶5, 38∶6, and P-40∶1) species. One sphingolipid, SM(d18∶0), was significantly increased in all patients. Four PC forms (36∶3, 36∶5, 38∶5, and 38∶6) were consistently downregulated in severe vs mild patients. These observations were confirmed by TLC-MALDI. These results suggest that plasma phospholipid signatures may be able to discriminate mild and severe forms of CF, and show for the first time MALDI-TOF-ClinProTools™ as a suitable methodology for the search of lipid markers in CF.
PMCID: PMC2768907  PMID: 19893743
24.  An Endocannabinoid Signaling System Modulates Anxiety-like Behavior in Male Syrian Hamsters 
Psychopharmacology  2008;200(3):333-346.
An endocannabinoid signaling system has not been identified in hamsters.
We examined the existence of an endocannabinioid signaling system in Syrian hamsters using neuroanatomical, biochemical and behavioral pharmacological approaches.
The distribution of cannabinoid receptors was mapped and membrane fatty-acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) activity and levels of fatty-acid amides were measured in hamster brain. The impact of cannabinoid CB1 receptor blockade and inhibition of FAAH was evaluated in the elevated plus maze, rota-rod test and models of unconditioned and conditioned social defeat.
A characteristic heterogeneous distribution of cannabinoid receptors was detected in hamster brain using [3H]CP55,940 binding and autoradiography. The FAAH inhibitor URB597 inhibited FAAH activity (IC50 = 12.8 nM) and elevated levels of fatty-acid amides (N-palmitoyl ethanolamine (PEA) and N-oleoyl ethanolamine (OEA)) in hamster brain. Anandamide levels were not reliably altered. The cannabinoid agonist WIN55,212-2 (1– 10 mg/kg i.p.) induced CB1-mediated motor ataxia. Blockade of CB1 with rimonabant (5 mg/kg i.p.) induced anxiogenic-like behavior in the elevated plus maze. URB597 (0.1–0.3 mg/kg i.p.) induced CB1-mediated anxiolytic-like effects in elevated plus maze, similar to the benzodiazepine diazepam (2 mg/kg i.p.). Diazepam (2–6 mg/kg i.p.) suppressed the expression, but not the acquisition, of conditioned defeat. By contrast, neither URB597 (0.3–3.0 mg/kg i.p.) nor rimonabant (5 mg/kg i.p.) altered unconditioned or conditioned social defeat or rota-rod performance.
Endocannabinoids engage functional CB1 receptors in hamster brain to suppress anxiety-like behavior and undergo enzymatic hydrolysis catalyzed by FAAH. Our results further suggest that neither unconditioned nor conditioned social defeat in the Syrian hamster is dependent upon cannabinoid CB1 receptor activation.
PMCID: PMC2694060  PMID: 18545985
Cannabinoids; conditioned defeat; social defeat; elevated plus maze; anxiety; FAAH
25.  The lipid messenger OEA links dietary fat intake to satiety 
Cell metabolism  2008;8(4):281-288.
The association between fat consumption and obesity underscores the need to identify physiological signals that control fat intake. Previous studies have shown that feeding stimulates small-intestinal mucosal cells to produce the lipid messenger oleoylethanolamide (OEA) which, when administered as a drug, decreases meal frequency by engaging peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors-α (PPAR-α). Here we report that duodenal infusion of fat stimulates OEA mobilization in the proximal small intestine, whereas infusion of protein or carbohydrate does not. OEA production utilizes dietary oleic acid as a substrate and is disrupted in mutant mice lacking the membrane fatty-acid transporter CD36. Targeted disruption of CD36 or PPAR-α abrogates the satiety response induced by fat. The results suggest that activation of small-intestinal OEA mobilization, enabled by CD36-mediated uptake of dietary oleic acid, serves as a molecular sensor linking fat ingestion to satiety.
PMCID: PMC2572640  PMID: 18840358

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