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1.  The Link Between Nutritional Status and Insulin Sensitivity Is Dependent on the Adipocyte-Specific Peroxisome Proliferator–Activated Receptor-γ2 Isoform 
Diabetes  2005;54(6):1706-1716.
The nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor-γ (PPARγ) is critically required for adipogenesis. PPARγ exists as two isoforms, γ1 and γ2. PPARγ2 is the more potent adipogenic isoform in vitro and is normally restricted to adipose tissues, where it is regulated more by nutritional state than PPARγ1. To elucidate the relevance of the PPARγ2 in vivo, we generated a mouse model in which the PPARγ2 isoform was specifically disrupted. Despite similar weight, body composition, food intake, energy expenditure, and adipose tissue morphology, male mice lacking the γ2 isoform were more insulin resistant than wild-type animals when fed a regular diet. These results indicate that insulin resistance associated with ablation of PPARγ2 is not the result of lipodystrophy and suggests a specific role for PPARγ2 in maintaining insulin sensitivity independently of its effects on adipogenesis. Furthermore, PPARγ2 knockout mice fed a high-fat diet did not become more insulin resistant than those on a normal diet, despite a marked increase in their mean adipocyte cell size. These findings suggest that PPARγ2 is required for the maintenance of normal insulin sensitivity in mice but also raises the intriguing notion that PPARγ2 may be necessary for the adverse effects of a high-fat diet on carbohydrate metabolism.
PMCID: PMC4304004  PMID: 15919792
2.  Decreased Cord-Blood Phospholipids in Young Age–at–Onset Type 1 Diabetes 
Diabetes  2013;62(11):3951-3956.
Children developing type 1 diabetes may have risk markers already in their umbilical cord blood. It is hypothesized that the risk for type 1 diabetes at an early age may be increased by a pathogenic pregnancy and be reflected in altered cord-blood composition. This study used metabolomics to test if the cord-blood lipidome was affected in children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes before 8 years of age. The present case-control study of 76 index children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes before 8 years of age and 76 healthy control subjects matched for HLA risk, sex, and date of birth, as well as the mother’s age and gestational age, revealed that cord-blood phosphatidylcholines and phosphatidylethanolamines were significantly decreased in children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes before 4 years of age. Reduced levels of triglycerides correlated to gestational age in index and control children and to age at diagnosis only in the index children. Finally, gestational infection during the first trimester was associated with lower cord-blood total lysophosphatidylcholines in index and control children. In conclusion, metabolomics of umbilical cord blood may identify children at increased risk for type 1 diabetes. Low phospholipid levels at birth may represent key mediators of the immune system and contribute to early induction of islet autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC3806611  PMID: 23929934
3.  Age- and Islet Autoimmunity–Associated Differences in Amino Acid and Lipid Metabolites in Children at Risk for Type 1 Diabetes 
Diabetes  2011;60(11):2740-2747.
Islet autoimmunity precedes type 1 diabetes and often initiates in childhood. Phenotypic variation in islet autoimmunity relative to the age of its development suggests heterogeneous mechanisms of autoimmune activation. To support this notion, we examined whether serum metabolite profiles differ between children with respect to islet autoantibody status and the age of islet autoantibody development.
The study analyzed 29 metabolites of amino acid metabolism and 511 lipids assigned to 12 lipid clusters in children, with a type 1 diabetic parent, who first developed autoantibodies at age 2 years or younger (n = 13), at age 8 years or older (n = 22), or remained autoantibody-negative, and were matched for age, date of birth, and HLA genotypes (n = 35). Ultraperformance liquid chromatography and mass spectroscopy were used to measure metabolites and lipids quantitatively in the first autoantibody-positive and matched autoantibody-negative serum samples and in a second sample after 1 year of follow-up.
Differences in the metabolite profiles were observed relative to age and islet autoantibody status. Independent of age-related differences, autoantibody-positive children had higher levels of odd-chain triglycerides and polyunsaturated fatty acid–containing phospholipids than autoantibody-negative children and independent of age at first autoantibody appearance (P < 0.0001). Consistent with our hypothesis, children who developed autoantibodies by age 2 years had twofold lower concentration of methionine compared with those who developed autoantibodies in late childhood or remained autoantibody-negative (P < 0.0001).
Distinct metabolic profiles are associated with age and islet autoimmunity. Pathways that use methionine are potentially relevant for developing islet autoantibodies in early infancy.
PMCID: PMC3198092  PMID: 22025777
4.  Insulin Signaling Regulates Fatty Acid Catabolism at the Level of CoA Activation 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(1):e1002478.
The insulin/IGF signaling pathway is a highly conserved regulator of metabolism in flies and mammals, regulating multiple physiological functions including lipid metabolism. Although insulin signaling is known to regulate the activity of a number of enzymes in metabolic pathways, a comprehensive understanding of how the insulin signaling pathway regulates metabolic pathways is still lacking. Accepted knowledge suggests the key regulated step in triglyceride (TAG) catabolism is the release of fatty acids from TAG via the action of lipases. We show here that an additional, important regulated step is the activation of fatty acids for beta-oxidation via Acyl Co-A synthetases (ACS). We identify pudgy as an ACS that is transcriptionally regulated by direct FOXO action in Drosophila. Increasing or reducing pudgy expression in vivo causes a decrease or increase in organismal TAG levels respectively, indicating that pudgy expression levels are important for proper lipid homeostasis. We show that multiple ACSs are also transcriptionally regulated by insulin signaling in mammalian cells. In sum, we identify fatty acid activation onto CoA as an important, regulated step in triglyceride catabolism, and we identify a mechanistic link through which insulin regulates lipid homeostasis.
Author Summary
Type 2 diabetes, which is reaching epidemic proportions worldwide, is often associated with obesity and an imbalance in organismal lipid homeostasis. Therefore, understanding how insulin regulates lipid biosynthesis and breakdown is necessary. Surprisingly, the molecular mechanisms by which insulin regulates fatty acid catabolism are not entirely understood. We show here that insulin signaling regulates expression of acyl-CoA Synthetases (ACS). ACSs couple fatty acids to Coenzyme A, thereby activating them for subsequent biochemical reactions. In Drosophila, we find that insulin signaling modulates expression of one ACS called Pudgy, which activates fatty acids for beta-oxidation. Modulation of pudgy expression leads to changes in overall organismal lipid homeostasis. Likewise, we show that in mammalian cells insulin signaling regulates expression of a number of ACSs and that ACS expression modulates steady-state lipid levels.
PMCID: PMC3261918  PMID: 22275878
5.  Phospholipids and insulin resistance in psychosis: a lipidomics study of twin pairs discordant for schizophrenia 
Genome Medicine  2012;4(1):1.
Several theories have been proposed to conceptualize the pathological processes inherent to schizophrenia. The 'prostaglandin deficiency' hypothesis postulates that defective enzyme systems converting essential fatty acids to prostaglandins lead to diminished levels of prostaglandins, which in turn affect synaptic transmission.
Here we sought to determine the lipidomic profiles associated with schizophrenia in twin pairs discordant for schizophrenia as well as unaffected twin pairs. The study included serum samples from 19 twin pairs discordant for schizophrenia (mean age 51 ± 10 years; 7 monozygotic pairs; 13 female pairs) and 34 age and gender matched healthy twins as controls. Neurocognitive assessment data and gray matter density measurements taken from high-resolution magnetic resonance images were also obtained. A lipidomics platform using ultra performance liquid chromatography coupled to time-of-flight mass spectrometry was applied for the analysis of serum samples.
In comparison to their healthy co-twins, the patients had elevated triglycerides and were more insulin resistant. They had diminished lysophosphatidylcholine levels, which associated with decreased cognitive speed.
Our findings may be of pathophysiological relevance since lysophosphatidylcholines, byproducts of phospholipase A2-catalyzed phospholipid hydrolysis, are preferred carriers of polyunsaturated fatty acids across the blood-brain barrier. Furthermore, diminishment of lysophosphatidylcholines suggests that subjects at risk of schizophrenia may be more susceptible to infections. Their association with cognitive speed supports the view that altered neurotransmission in schizophrenia may be in part mediated by reactive lipids such as prostaglandins.
PMCID: PMC3334549  PMID: 22257447
6.  Phospholipase PLA2G7, associated with aggressive prostate cancer, promotes prostate cancer cell migration and invasion and is inhibited by statins 
Oncotarget  2011;2(12):1176-1190.
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer mortality in men in developed countries. Due to the heterogeneous nature of the disease, design of novel personalized treatments is required to achieve efficient therapeutic responses. We have recently identified phospholipase 2 group VII (PLA2G7) as a potential drug target especially in ERG oncogene positive prostate cancers. Here, the expression profile of PLA2G7 was studied in 1137 prostate cancer and 409 adjacent non-malignant prostate tissues using immunohistochemistry to validate its biomarker potential and putative association with disease progression. In order to reveal the molecular alterations induced by PLA2G7 impairment, lipidomic and gene expression profiling was performed in response to PLA2G7 silencing in cultured prostate cancer cells. Moreover, the antineoplastic effect of statins combined with PLA2G7 impairment was studied in prostate cancer cells to evaluate the potential of repositioning of in vivo compatible drugs developed for other indications towards anti-cancer purposes. The results indicated that PLA2G7 is a cancer-selective biomarker in 50% of prostate cancers and associates with aggressive disease. The alterations induced by PLA2G7 silencing highlighted the potential of PLA2G7 inhibition as an anti-proliferative, pro-apoptotic and anti-migratorial therapeutic approach in prostate cancer. Moreover, the anti-proliferative effect of PLA2G7 silencing was potentiated by lipid-lowering statins in prostate cancer cells. Taken together, our results support the potential of PLA2G7 as a biomarker and a drug target in prostate cancer and present a rationale for combining PLA2G7 inhibition with the use of statins in prostate cancer management.
PMCID: PMC3282076  PMID: 22202492
Prostate cancer; PLA2G7; drug target; biomarker; statins
7.  Metabolic Regulation in Progression to Autoimmune Diabetes 
PLoS Computational Biology  2011;7(10):e1002257.
Recent evidence from serum metabolomics indicates that specific metabolic disturbances precede β-cell autoimmunity in humans and can be used to identify those children who subsequently progress to type 1 diabetes. The mechanisms behind these disturbances are unknown. Here we show the specificity of the pre-autoimmune metabolic changes, as indicated by their conservation in a murine model of type 1 diabetes. We performed a study in non-obese prediabetic (NOD) mice which recapitulated the design of the human study and derived the metabolic states from longitudinal lipidomics data. We show that female NOD mice who later progress to autoimmune diabetes exhibit the same lipidomic pattern as prediabetic children. These metabolic changes are accompanied by enhanced glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, normoglycemia, upregulation of insulinotropic amino acids in islets, elevated plasma leptin and adiponectin, and diminished gut microbial diversity of the Clostridium leptum group. Together, the findings indicate that autoimmune diabetes is preceded by a state of increased metabolic demands on the islets resulting in elevated insulin secretion and suggest alternative metabolic related pathways as therapeutic targets to prevent diabetes.
Author Summary
We have recently found that distinct metabolic disturbances precede β-cell autoimmunity in children who later progress to type 1 diabetes (T1D). Here we performed a murine study using non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice that recapitulated the protocol used in human, followed up by independent studies where NOD mice were studied in relation to risk of diabetes progression. We found that young female NOD mice who later progress to autoimmune diabetes exhibit the same lipidomic pattern as prediabetic children. These metabolic changes are accompanied by enhanced glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, upregulation of insulinotropic amino acids in islets, elevated plasma leptin and adiponectin, and diminished gut microbial diversity of the Clostridium leptum subgroup. The metabolic phenotypes observed in our study could be relevant as end points for studies investigating T1D pathogenesis and/or responses to interventions. By proceeding from a clinical study via metabolomics and modeling to an experimental model using a similar study design, then evolving further to tissue-specific studies, we hereby also present a conceptually novel approach to reversed translation that may be useful in future therapeutic studies in the context of prevention and treatment of T1D as well as of other diseases characterized by long prodromal periods.
PMCID: PMC3203065  PMID: 22046124
8.  Whole Grain Products, Fish and Bilberries Alter Glucose and Lipid Metabolism in a Randomized, Controlled Trial: The Sysdimet Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e22646.
Due to the growing prevalence of type 2 diabetes, new dietary solutions are needed to help improve glucose and lipid metabolism in persons at high risk of developing the disease. Herein we investigated the effects of low-insulin-response grain products, fatty fish, and berries on glucose metabolism and plasma lipidomic profiles in persons with impaired glucose metabolism.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Altogether 106 men and women with impaired glucose metabolism and with at least two other features of the metabolic syndrome were included in a 12-week parallel dietary intervention. The participants were randomized into three diet intervention groups: (1) whole grain and low postprandial insulin response grain products, fatty fish three times a week, and bilberries three portions per day (HealthyDiet group), (2) Whole grain enriched diet (WGED) group, which includes principally the same grain products as group (1), but with no change in fish or berry consumption, and (3) refined wheat breads (Control). Oral glucose tolerance, plasma fatty acids and lipidomic profiles were measured before and after the intervention. Self-reported compliance with the diets was good and the body weight remained constant. Within the HealthyDiet group two hour glucose concentration and area-under-the-curve for glucose decreased and plasma proportion of (n-3) long-chain PUFAs increased (False Discovery Rate p-values <0.05). Increases in eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid associated curvilinearly with the improved insulin secretion and glucose disposal. Among the 364 characterized lipids, 25 changed significantly in the HealthyDiet group, including multiple triglycerides incorporating the long chain (n-3) PUFA.
The results suggest that the diet rich in whole grain and low insulin response grain products, bilberries, and fatty fish improve glucose metabolism and alter the lipidomic profile. Therefore, such a diet may have a beneficial effect in the efforts to prevent type 2 diabetes in high risk persons.
Trial Registration NCT00573781
PMCID: PMC3161986  PMID: 21901116
9.  Association of Lipidome Remodeling in the Adipocyte Membrane with Acquired Obesity in Humans 
PLoS Biology  2011;9(6):e1000623.
The authors describe a new approach to studying cellular lipid profiles and propose a compensatory mechanism that may help maintain the normal membrane function of adipocytes in the context of obesity.
Identification of early mechanisms that may lead from obesity towards complications such as metabolic syndrome is of great interest. Here we performed lipidomic analyses of adipose tissue in twin pairs discordant for obesity but still metabolically compensated. In parallel we studied more evolved states of obesity by investigating a separated set of individuals considered to be morbidly obese. Despite lower dietary polyunsaturated fatty acid intake, the obese twin individuals had increased proportions of palmitoleic and arachidonic acids in their adipose tissue, including increased levels of ethanolamine plasmalogens containing arachidonic acid. Information gathered from these experimental groups was used for molecular dynamics simulations of lipid bilayers combined with dependency network analysis of combined clinical, lipidomics, and gene expression data. The simulations suggested that the observed lipid remodeling maintains the biophysical properties of lipid membranes, at the price, however, of increasing their vulnerability to inflammation. Conversely, in morbidly obese subjects, the proportion of plasmalogens containing arachidonic acid in the adipose tissue was markedly decreased. We also show by in vitro Elovl6 knockdown that the lipid network regulating the observed remodeling may be amenable to genetic modulation. Together, our novel approach suggests a physiological mechanism by which adaptation of adipocyte membranes to adipose tissue expansion associates with positive energy balance, potentially leading to higher vulnerability to inflammation in acquired obesity. Further studies will be needed to determine the cause of this effect.
Author Summary
Obesity is characterized by excess body fat, which is predominantly stored in the adipose tissue. When adipose tissue expands too much it stops storing lipid appropriately. The excess lipid accumulates in organs such as muscle, liver, and pancreas, causing metabolic disease. In this study, we aim to identify factors that cause adipose tissue to malfunction when it reaches its limit of expansion. We performed lipidomic analyses of human adipose tissue in twin pairs discordant for obesity—that is, one of the twins was lean and one was obese—but still metabolically healthy. We identified multiple changes in membrane phospholipids. Using computer modeling, we show that “lean” and “obese” membrane lipid compositions have the same physical properties despite their different compositions. We hypothesize that this represents allostasis—changes in lipid membrane composition in obesity occur to protect the physical properties of the membranes. However, protective changes cannot occur without a cost, and accordingly we demonstrate that switching to the “obese” lipid composition is associated with higher levels of adipose tissue inflammation. In a separate group of metabolically unhealthy obese individuals we investigated how the processes that regulate the “lean” and “obese” lipid profiles are changed. To determine how these lipid membrane changes are regulated we constructed an in silico network model that identified key control points and potential molecular players. We validated this network by performing genetic manipulations in cell models. Therapeutic targeting of this network may open new opportunities for the prevention or treatment of obesity-related metabolic complications.
PMCID: PMC3110175  PMID: 21666801
10.  Human Tear Fluid Lipidome: From Composition to Function 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e19553.
We have explored human aqueous tear fluid lipidome with an emphasis to identify the major lipids. We also address the physiological significance of the lipidome. The tears were analysed using thin layer chromatographic, enzymatic and mass spectrometric techniques. To emphasize the physiological aspect of the lipidome, we modelled the spreading of the non-polar tear fluid lipids at air-water interface in macroscopic scale with olive oil and egg yolk phosphatidylcholine. Based on enzymatic analysis the respective concentrations of choline-containing lipids, triglycerides, and cholesteryl esters were 48±14, 10±0, and 21±18 µM. Ultra performance liquid chromatography quadrupole time of flight mass spectrometry analysis showed that phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine were the two most common polar lipids comprising 88±6% of all identified lipids. Triglycerides were the only non-polar lipids detected in mass spectrometric analysis i.e. no cholesteryl or wax esters were identified. The spreading experiments show that the presence of polar lipids is an absolute necessity for a proper spreading of non-polar tear fluid lipids. We provide evidence that polar lipids are the most common lipid species. Furthermore, we provide a physiological rationale for the observed lipid composition. The results open insights into the functional role of lipids in the tear fluid and also aids in providing new means to understand and treat diseases of the ocular surface.
PMCID: PMC3088682  PMID: 21573170
11.  Metabolome in schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders: a general population-based study 
Genome Medicine  2011;3(3):19.
Persons with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders have a high prevalence of obesity, impaired glucose tolerance, and lipid abnormalities, particularly hypertriglyceridemia and low high-density lipoprotein. More detailed molecular information on the metabolic abnormalities may reveal clues about the pathophysiology of these changes, as well as about disease specificity.
We applied comprehensive metabolomics in serum samples from a general population-based study in Finland. The study included all persons with DSM-IV primary psychotic disorder (schizophrenia, n = 45; other non-affective psychosis (ONAP), n = 57; affective psychosis, n = 37) and controls matched by age, sex, and region of residence. Two analytical platforms for metabolomics were applied to all serum samples: a global lipidomics platform based on ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry, which covers molecular lipids such as phospholipids and neutral lipids; and a platform for small polar metabolites based on two-dimensional gas chromatography coupled to time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC × GC-TOFMS).
Compared with their matched controls, persons with schizophrenia had significantly higher metabolite levels in six lipid clusters containing mainly saturated triglycerides, and in two small-molecule clusters containing, among other metabolites, (1) branched chain amino acids, phenylalanine and tyrosine, and (2) proline, glutamic, lactic and pyruvic acids. Among these, serum glutamic acid was elevated in all psychoses (P = 0.0020) compared to controls, while proline upregulation (P = 0.000023) was specific to schizophrenia. After adjusting for medication and metabolic comorbidity in linear mixed models, schizophrenia remained independently associated with higher levels in seven of these eight clusters (P < 0.05 in each cluster). The metabolic abnormalities were less pronounced in persons with ONAP or affective psychosis.
Our findings suggest that specific metabolic abnormalities related to glucoregulatory processes and proline metabolism are specifically associated with schizophrenia and reflect two different disease-related pathways. Metabolomics, which is sensitive to both genetic and environmental variation, may become a powerful tool in psychiatric research to investigate disease susceptibility, clinical course, and treatment response.
PMCID: PMC3092104  PMID: 21429189
12.  Serum Lipidomics Meets Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Profiling of Subjects at Risk of Dilated Cardiomyopathy 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e15744.
Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), characterized by left ventricular dilatation and systolic dysfunction, constitutes a significant cause for heart failure, sudden cardiac death or need for heart transplantation. Lamin A/C gene (LMNA) on chromosome 1p12 is the most significant disease gene causing DCM and has been reported to cause 7–9% of DCM leading to cardiac transplantation. We have previously performed cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to LMNA carriers to describe the early phenotype. Clinically, early recognition of subjects at risk of developing DCM would be important but is often difficult. Thus we have earlier used the MRI findings of these LMNA carriers for creating a model by which LMNA carriers could be identified from the controls at an asymptomatic stage. Some LMNA mutations may cause lipodystrophy. To characterize possible effects of LMNA mutations on lipid profile, we set out to apply global serum lipidomics using Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry in the same LMNA carriers, DCM patients without LMNA mutation and controls. All DCM patients, with or without LMNA mutation, differed from controls in regard to distinct serum lipidomic profile dominated by diminished odd-chain triglycerides and lipid ratios related to desaturation. Furthermore, we introduce a novel approach to identify associations between the molecular lipids from serum and the MR images from the LMNA carriers. The association analysis using dependency network and regression approaches also helped us to obtain novel insights into how the affected lipids might relate to cardiac shape and volume changes. Our study provides a framework for linking serum derived molecular markers not only with clinical endpoints, but also with the more subtle intermediate phenotypes, as derived from medical imaging, of potential pathophysiological relevance.
PMCID: PMC3024392  PMID: 21283746
13.  Differences in Muscle and Adipose Tissue Gene Expression and Cardio-Metabolic Risk Factors in the Members of Physical Activity Discordant Twin Pairs 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e12609.
High physical activity/aerobic fitness predicts low morbidity and mortality. Our aim was to identify the most up-regulated gene sets related to long-term physical activity vs. inactivity in skeletal muscle and adipose tissues and to obtain further information about their link with cardio-metabolic risk factors. We studied ten same-sex twin pairs (age range 50–74 years) who had been discordant for leisure-time physical activity for 30 years. The examinations included biopsies from m. vastus lateralis and abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue. RNA was analyzed with the genome-wide Illumina Human WG-6 v3.0 Expression BeadChip. For pathway analysis we used Gene Set Enrichment Analysis utilizing active vs. inactive co-twin gene expression ratios. Our findings showed that among the physically active members of twin pairs, as compared to their inactive co-twins, gene expression in the muscle tissue samples was chronically up-regulated for the central pathways related to energy metabolism, including oxidative phosphorylation, lipid metabolism and supportive metabolic pathways. Up-regulation of these pathways was associated in particular with aerobic fitness and high HDL cholesterol levels. In fat tissue we found physical activity-associated increases in the expression of polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism and branched-chain amino acid degradation gene sets both of which associated with decreased ‘high-risk’ ectopic body fat and plasma glucose levels. Consistent with other findings, plasma lipidomics analysis showed up-regulation of the triacylglycerols containing the polyunsaturated fatty acids. Our findings identified skeletal muscle and fat tissue pathways which are associated with the long-term physical activity and reduced cardio-metabolic disease risk, including increased aerobic fitness. In particular, improved skeletal muscle oxidative energy and lipid metabolism as well as changes in adipocyte function and redistribution of body fat are associated with reduced cardio-metabolic risk.
PMCID: PMC2940764  PMID: 20862330
14.  Hepatic Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase (SCD)-1 Activity and Diacylglycerol but Not Ceramide Concentrations Are Increased in the Nonalcoholic Human Fatty Liver 
Diabetes  2009;58(1):203-208.
OBJECTIVE—To determine whether 1) hepatic ceramide and diacylglycerol concentrations, 2) SCD1 activity, and 3) hepatic lipogenic index are increased in the human nonalcoholic fatty liver.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—We studied 16 subjects with (n = 8) and without (n = 8) histologically determined nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFL+ and NAFL−) matched for age, sex, and BMI. Hepatic concentrations of lipids and fatty acids were quantitated using ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry and gas chromatography.
RESULTS—The absolute (nmol/mg) hepatic concentrations of diacylglycerols but not ceramides were increased in the NAFL+ group compared with the NAFL− group. The livers of the NAFL+ group contained proportionally less long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids as compared with the NAFL− group. Liver fat percent was positively related to hepatic stearoyl-CoA desaturase 1 (SCD1) activity index (r = 0.70, P = 0.003) and the hepatic lipogenic index (r = 0.54, P = 0.030). Hepatic SCD1 activity index was positively related to the concentrations of diacylglycerols (r = 0.71, P = 0.002) but not ceramides (r = 0.07, NS).
CONCLUSIONS—We conclude that diacylglycerols but not ceramides are increased in NAFL. The human fatty liver is also characterized by depletion of long polyunsaturated fatty acids in the liver and increases in hepatic SCD1 and lipogenic activities.
PMCID: PMC2606873  PMID: 18952834
15.  Elevated pro-inflammatory and lipotoxic mucosal lipids characterise irritable bowel syndrome 
AIM: To investigate the pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) by comparing the global mucosal metabolic profiles of IBS patients with those of healthy controls.
METHODS: Fifteen IBS patients fulfilling the Rome II criteria, and nine healthy volunteers were included in the study. A combined lipidomics (UPLC/MS) and metabolomics (GC × GC-TOF) approach was used to achieve global metabolic profiles of mucosal biopsies from the ascending colon.
RESULTS: Overall, lipid levels were elevated in patients with IBS. The most significant upregulation was seen for pro-inflammatory lysophosphatidylcholines. Other lipid groups that were significantly upregulated in IBS patients were lipotoxic ceramides, glycosphingolipids, and di- and triacylglycerols. Among the metabolites, the cyclic ester 2(3H)-furanone was almost 14-fold upregulated in IBS patients compared to healthy subjects (P = 0.03).
CONCLUSION: IBS mucosa is characterised by a distinct pro-inflammatory and lipotoxic metabolic profile. Especially, there was an increase in several lipid species such as lysophospholipids and ceramides.
PMCID: PMC2797663  PMID: 20027679
Functional gastrointestinal diseases; Irritable bowel syndrome; Histopathology
16.  Overexpression of VEGF-B in mouse heart alters cardiac lipid metabolism and induces myocardial hypertrophy 
Circulation research  2008;103(9):1018-1026.
Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor-B (VEGF-B) is poorly angiogenic but prominently expressed in metabolically highly active tissues, including the heart. We produced mice expressing a cardiac-specific VEGF-B transgene via the alpha myosin heavy chain promoter. Surprisingly, the hearts of the VEGF-B transgenic mice showed concentric cardiac hypertrophy without significant changes in heart function. The cardiac hypertrophy was due to an increased size of the cardiomyocytes. Blood capillary size was increased, while the number of blood vessels per cell nucleus remained unchanged. Despite the cardiac hypertrophy, the transgenic mice had lower heart rate and blood pressure than their littermates, and they responded similarly to angiotensin II-induced hypertension, confirming that the hypertrophy does not compromise heart function. Interestingly, the isolated transgenic hearts had less cardiomyocyte damage after ischemia. Significantly increased ceramide and decreased triglyceride levels were found in the transgenic hearts. This was associated with structural changes and eventual lysis of mitochondria, resulting in accumulation of intracellular vacuoles in cardiomyocytes and increased death of the transgenic mice, apparently due to mitochondrial lipotoxicity in the heart. These results suggest that VEGF-B regulates lipid metabolism, an unexpected function for an angiogenic growth factor.
PMCID: PMC2762522  PMID: 18757827
VEGF-B; cardiac hypertrophy; cardiac metabolism; fatty acids; mitochondria
17.  Dysregulation of lipid and amino acid metabolism precedes islet autoimmunity in children who later progress to type 1 diabetes 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2008;205(13):2975-2984.
The risk determinants of type 1 diabetes, initiators of autoimmune response, mechanisms regulating progress toward β cell failure, and factors determining time of presentation of clinical diabetes are poorly understood. We investigated changes in the serum metabolome prospectively in children who later progressed to type 1 diabetes. Serum metabolite profiles were compared between sample series drawn from 56 children who progressed to type 1 diabetes and 73 controls who remained nondiabetic and permanently autoantibody negative. Individuals who developed diabetes had reduced serum levels of succinic acid and phosphatidylcholine (PC) at birth, reduced levels of triglycerides and antioxidant ether phospholipids throughout the follow up, and increased levels of proinflammatory lysoPCs several months before seroconversion to autoantibody positivity. The lipid changes were not attributable to HLA-associated genetic risk. The appearance of insulin and glutamic acid decarboxylase autoantibodies was preceded by diminished ketoleucine and elevated glutamic acid. The metabolic profile was partially normalized after the seroconversion. Autoimmunity may thus be a relatively late response to the early metabolic disturbances. Recognition of these preautoimmune alterations may aid in studies of disease pathogenesis and may open a time window for novel type 1 diabetes prevention strategies.
PMCID: PMC2605239  PMID: 19075291
18.  Fatty Fish Intake Decreases Lipids Related to Inflammation and Insulin Signaling—A Lipidomics Approach 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(4):e5258.
The evidence of the multiple beneficial health effects of fish consumption is strong, but physiological mechanisms behind these effects are not completely known. Little information is available on the effects of consumption of different type of fish. The aim of this study was to investigate how fatty fish or lean fish in a diet affect serum lipidomic profiles in subjects with coronary heart disease.
Methodology and Principal Findings
A pilot study was designed which included altogether 33 subjects with myocardial infarction or unstable ischemic attack in an 8-week parallel controlled intervention. The subjects were randomized to either fatty fish (n = 11), lean fish (n = 12) or control (n = 10) groups. Subjects in the fish groups had 4 fish meals per week and subjects in the control group consumed lean beef, pork and chicken. A fish meal was allowed once a week maximum. Lipidomics analyses were performed using ultra performance liquid chromatography coupled to electrospray ionization mass spectrometry and gas chromatography. Multiple bioactive lipid species, including ceramides, lysophosphatidylcholines and diacylglycerols, decreased significantly in the fatty fish group, whereas in the lean fish group cholesterol esters and specific long-chain triacylglycerols increased significantly (False Discovery Rate q-value <0.05).
The 8-week consumption of fatty fish decreased lipids which are potential mediators of lipid-induced insulin resistance and inflammation, and may be related to the protective effects of fatty fish on the progression of atherosclerotic vascular diseases or insulin resistance.
Trial Registration NCT00720655
PMCID: PMC2669180  PMID: 19390588
19.  Metabolomic changes in fatty liver can be modified by dietary protein and calcium during energy restriction 
AIM: To characterise the effect of energy restriction (ER) on liver lipid and primary metabolite profile by using metabolomic approach. We also investigated whether the effect of energy restriction can be further enhanced by modification of dietary protein source and calcium.
METHODS: Liver metabolomic profile of lean and obese C57Bl/6J mice (n = 10/group) were compared with two groups of weight-reduced mice. ER was performed on control diet and whey protein-based high-calcium diet (whey + Ca). The metabolomic analyses were performed using the UPLC/MS based lipidomic platform and the HPLC/MS/MS based primary metabolite platform.
RESULTS: ER on both diets significantly reduced hepatic lipid accumulation and lipid droplet size, while only whey + Ca diet significantly decreased blood glucose (P < 0.001) and serum insulin (P < 0.01). In hepatic lipid species the biggest reduction was in the level of triacylglycerols and ceramides while the level of cholesterol esters was significantly increased during ER. Interestingly, diacylglycerol to phospholipid ratio, an indicator of relative amount of diabetogenic diglyceride species, was increased in the control ER group, but decreased in the whey + Ca ER group (P < 0.001, vs obese). ER on whey + Ca diet also totally reversed the obesity induced increase in the relative level of lipotoxic ceramides (P < 0.001, vs obese; P > 0.05, vs lean). These changes were accompanied with up-regulated TCA cycle and pentose phosphate pathway metabolites.
CONCLUSION: ER-induced changes on hepatic metabolomic profile can be significantly affected by dietary protein source. The therapeutic potential of whey protein and calcium should be further studied.
PMCID: PMC2731271  PMID: 18680224
Fatty liver; Metabolomics; Energy restriction; Whey protein; Dietary calcium
20.  Triacylglycerol Fatty Acid Composition in Diet-Induced Weight Loss in Subjects with Abnormal Glucose Metabolism – the GENOBIN Study 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(7):e2630.
The effect of weight loss on different plasma lipid subclasses at the molecular level is unknown. The aim of this study was to examine whether a diet-induced weight reduction result in changes in the extended plasma lipid profiles (lipidome) in subjects with features of metabolic syndrome in a 33-week intervention.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Plasma samples of 9 subjects in the weight reduction group and 10 subjects in the control group were analyzed using mass spectrometry based lipidomic and fatty acid analyses. Body weight decreased in the weight reduction group by 7.8±2.9% (p<0.01). Most of the serum triacylglycerols and phosphatidylcholines were reduced. The decrease in triacylglycerols affected predominantly the saturated short chain fatty acids. This decrease of saturated short chain fatty acid containing triacylglycerols correlated with the increase of insulin sensitivity. However, levels of several longer chain fatty acids, including arachidonic and docosahexanoic acid, were not affected by weight loss. Levels of other lipids known to be associated with obesity such as sphingolipids and lysophosphatidylcholines were not altered by weight reduction.
Diet-induced weight loss caused significant changes in global lipid profiles in subjects with abnormal glucose metabolism. The observed changes may affect insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism in these subjects.
Trial Registration NCT00621205
PMCID: PMC2440352  PMID: 18612464
21.  Gender-dependent progression of systemic metabolic states in early childhood 
Little is known about the human intra-individual metabolic profile changes over an extended period of time. Here, we introduce a novel concept suggesting that children even at a very young age can be categorized in terms of metabolic state as they advance in development. The hidden Markov models were used as a method for discovering the underlying progression in the metabolic state. We applied the methodology to study metabolic trajectories in children between birth and 4 years of age, based on a series of samples selected from a large birth cohort study. We found multiple previously unknown age- and gender-related metabolome changes of potential medical significance. Specifically, we found that the major developmental state differences between girls and boys are attributed to sphingolipids. In addition, we demonstrated the feasibility of state-based alignment of personal metabolic trajectories. We show that children have different development rates at the level of metabolome and thus the state-based approach may be advantageous when applying metabolome profiling in search of markers for subtle (patho)physiological changes.
PMCID: PMC2483410  PMID: 18523432
hidden Markov models; lipid metabolism; metabolomics; multivariate longitudinal data; pediatrics
22.  Effect of probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG intervention on global serum lipidomic profiles in healthy adults 
AIM: To investigate the effect of three weeks’ intervention with a probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) bacteria on global serum lipidomic profiles and evaluate whether the changes in inflammatory variables (CRP, TNF-α and IL-6) are reflected in the global lipidomic profiles of healthy adults.
METHODS: We performed UPLC/MS-based global lipidomic platform analysis of serum samples (n = 26) in a substudy of a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled 3-wk clinical intervention trial investigating the immunomodulatory effects of probiotics in healthy adults.
RESULTS: A total of 407 lipids were identified, corresponding to 13 different lipid classes. Serum samples showed decreases in the levels of lysophosphatidylcholines (LysoGPCho), sphingomyelins (SM) and several glycerophosphatidylcholines (GPCho), while triacylglycerols (TAG) were mainly increased in the probiotic LGG group during the intervention. Among the inflammatory variables, IL-6 was moderately associated by changes in global lipidomic profiles, with the top-ranked lipid associated with IL-6 being the proinflammatory LysoGPCho (20:4). There was a weak association between the lipidomic profiles and the two other inflammatory markers, TNF-α and CRP.
CONCLUSION: This was the first study to investigate the effects of probiotic intervention on global lipidomic profiles in humans. There are indications that probiotic LGG intervention may lead to changes in serum global lipid profiles, as reflected in decreased GPCho, LysoGPCho and SM as well as mainly increased TAG.
PMCID: PMC2712851  PMID: 18506924
Probiotic; Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG; Lipidomic; Inflammatory mediators; Healthy adults
23.  PPAR gamma 2 Prevents Lipotoxicity by Controlling Adipose Tissue Expandability and Peripheral Lipid Metabolism 
PLoS Genetics  2007;3(4):e64.
Peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma 2 (PPARg2) is the nutritionally regulated isoform of PPARg. Ablation of PPARg2 in the ob/ob background, PPARg2−/− Lepob/Lepob (POKO mouse), resulted in decreased fat mass, severe insulin resistance, β-cell failure, and dyslipidaemia. Our results indicate that the PPARg2 isoform plays an important role, mediating adipose tissue expansion in response to positive energy balance. Lipidomic analyses suggest that PPARg2 plays an important antilipotoxic role when induced ectopically in liver and muscle by facilitating deposition of fat as relatively harmless triacylglycerol species and thus preventing accumulation of reactive lipid species. Our data also indicate that PPARg2 may be required for the β-cell hypertrophic adaptive response to insulin resistance. In summary, the PPARg2 isoform prevents lipotoxicity by (a) promoting adipose tissue expansion, (b) increasing the lipid-buffering capacity of peripheral organs, and (c) facilitating the adaptive proliferative response of β-cells to insulin resistance.
Author Summary
It is known that obesity is linked to type 2 diabetes, however how obesity causes insulin resistance and diabetes is not well understood. Some extremely obese people are not diabetic, while other less obese people develop severe insulin resistance and diabetes. We believe diabetes occurs when adipose tissue becomes “full,” and fat overflows into other organs such as liver, pancreas, and muscle, causing insulin resistance and diabetes. Peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma (PPARg) is essential for the development of adipose tissue and control of insulin sensitivity. PPARg2 is the isoform of PPARg regulated by nutrition. Here we investigate the role of PPARg2 under conditions of excess nutrients by removing the PPARg2 isoform in genetically obese mice, the POKO mouse. We report that removing PPARg2 decreases adipose tissue's capacity to expand and prevents the mouse from making as much fat as a normal obese mouse, despite eating similarly. Our studies suggest that PPARg plays an important antitoxic role when it is induced in liver, muscle, and beta cells by facilitating deposition of fat as relatively harmless lipids and thus prevents accumulation of toxic lipid species. We also show that PPARg2 may be involved in the adaptive response of beta cells to insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC1857730  PMID: 17465682
24.  Acquired Obesity Is Associated with Changes in the Serum Lipidomic Profile Independent of Genetic Effects – A Monozygotic Twin Study 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(2):e218.
Both genetic and environmental factors are involved in the etiology of obesity and the associated lipid disturbances. We determined whether acquired obesity is associated with changes in global serum lipid profiles independent of genetic factors in young adult monozygotic (MZ) twins. 14 healthy MZ pairs discordant for obesity (10 to 25 kg weight difference) and ten weight concordant control pairs aged 24–27 years were identified from a large population-based study. Insulin sensitivity was assessed by the euglycemic clamp technique, and body composition by DEXA (% body fat) and by MRI (subcutaneous and intra-abdominal fat). Global characterization of lipid molecular species in serum was performed by a lipidomics strategy using liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. Obesity, independent of genetic influences, was primarily related to increases in lysophosphatidylcholines, lipids found in proinflammatory and proatherogenic conditions and to decreases in ether phospholipids, which are known to have antioxidant properties. These lipid changes were associated with insulin resistance, a pathogonomic characteristic of acquired obesity in these young adult twins. Our results show that obesity, already in its early stages and independent of genetic influences, is associated with deleterious alterations in the lipid metabolism known to facilitate atherogenesis, inflammation and insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC1789242  PMID: 17299598
25.  Bioinformatics strategies for lipidomics analysis: characterization of obesity related hepatic steatosis 
BMC Systems Biology  2007;1:12.
Lipids are an important and highly diverse class of molecules having structural, energy storage and signaling roles. Modern analytical technologies afford screening of many lipid molecular species in parallel. One of the biggest challenges of lipidomics is elucidation of important pathobiological phenomena from the integration of the large amounts of new data becoming available.
We present computational and informatics approaches to study lipid molecular profiles in the context of known metabolic pathways and established pathophysiological responses, utilizing information obtained from modern analytical technologies. In order to facilitate identification of lipids, we compute the scaffold of theoretically possible lipids based on known lipid building blocks such as polar head groups and fatty acids. Each compound entry is linked to the available information on lipid pathways and contains the information that can be utilized for its automated identification from high-throughput UPLC/MS-based lipidomics experiments. The utility of our approach is demonstrated by its application to the lipidomic characterization of the fatty liver of the genetically obese insulin resistant ob/ob mouse model. We investigate the changes of correlation structure of the lipidome using multivariate analysis, as well as reconstruct the pathways for specific molecular species of interest using available lipidomic and gene expression data.
The methodology presented herein facilitates identification and interpretation of high-throughput lipidomics data. In the context of the ob/ob mouse liver profiling, we have identified the parallel associations between the elevated triacylglycerol levels and the ceramides, as well as the putative activated ceramide-synthesis pathways.
PMCID: PMC1839890  PMID: 17408502

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