Lipoprotein lipase: from gene to obesity

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2009 Aug;297(2):E271-88. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.90920.2008. Epub 2009 Mar 24.


Lipoprotein lipase (LPL) is a multifunctional enzyme produced by many tissues, including adipose tissue, cardiac and skeletal muscle, islets, and macrophages. LPL is the rate-limiting enzyme for the hydrolysis of the triglyceride (TG) core of circulating TG-rich lipoproteins, chylomicrons, and very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL). LPL-catalyzed reaction products, fatty acids, and monoacylglycerol are in part taken up by the tissues locally and processed differentially; e.g., they are stored as neutral lipids in adipose tissue, oxidized, or stored in skeletal and cardiac muscle or as cholesteryl ester and TG in macrophages. LPL is regulated at transcriptional, posttranscriptional, and posttranslational levels in a tissue-specific manner. Nutrient states and hormonal levels all have divergent effects on the regulation of LPL, and a variety of proteins that interact with LPL to regulate its tissue-specific activity have also been identified. To examine this divergent regulation further, transgenic and knockout murine models of tissue-specific LPL expression have been developed. Mice with overexpression of LPL in skeletal muscle accumulate TG in muscle, develop insulin resistance, are protected from excessive weight gain, and increase their metabolic rate in the cold. Mice with LPL deletion in skeletal muscle have reduced TG accumulation and increased insulin action on glucose transport in muscle. Ultimately, this leads to increased lipid partitioning to other tissues, insulin resistance, and obesity. Mice with LPL deletion in the heart develop hypertriglyceridemia and cardiac dysfunction. The fact that the heart depends increasingly on glucose implies that free fatty acids are not a sufficient fuel for optimal cardiac function. Overall, LPL is a fascinating enzyme that contributes in a pronounced way to normal lipoprotein metabolism, tissue-specific substrate delivery and utilization, and the many aspects of obesity and other metabolic disorders that relate to energy balance, insulin action, and body weight regulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Hormones / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lipoprotein Lipase / genetics*
  • Lipoprotein Lipase / metabolism
  • Lipoprotein Lipase / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Protein Binding / physiology


  • Hormones
  • Lipoprotein Lipase