Tracking cellular metabolomics in lipoapoptosis- and steatosis-developing liver cells

Mol Biosyst. 2011 May;7(5):1409-19. doi: 10.1039/c0mb00309c. Epub 2011 Feb 16.


Palmitate (PA) is known to induce reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation and apoptosis in liver cells, whereas concurrent treatment of oleate (OA) with PA predominately induces steatosis without ROS in liver cells. We previously reported that PA treatment induces the decoupling of glycolysis and tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA cycle) fluxes, but OA co-treatment restored most metabolic fluxes to their control levels. However, the mechanisms by which metabolites are linked to metabolic fluxes and subsequent lipoapoptotic or steatotic phenotypes remain unclear. To determine the link, we used GC-MS-based polar and non-polar metabolic profiling in lipoapoptosis- or steatosis-developing H4IIEC3 hepatoma cells, to examine the metabolome at different time points after treatment with either PA alone (PA cells) or both PA and OA (PA/OA cells). Metabolic profiles revealed various changes in metabolite levels for TCA cycle intermediates, pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) intermediates, and energy storage metabolites between PA and PA/OA cells. For example, adenosine was markedly increased only in PA cells, whereas gluconate was increased in PA/OA cells. To assess the interaction among these metabolites, the metabolite-to-metabolite correlations were calculated and correlation networks were visualized. These correlation networks demonstrate that a dissociation among PPP metabolites was introduced in PA-treated cells, and this dissociation was restored in PA/OA-treated cells. Thus, our data suggest that abnormal PPP fluxes, in addition to increased adenosine levels, might be related to the decoupling of glycolysis and the resulting lipoapoptotic phenotype.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Citric Acid Cycle / drug effects
  • Fatty Liver / metabolism
  • Fatty Liver / pathology
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Glycolysis / drug effects
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Metabolome / drug effects*
  • Metabolomics / methods*
  • Oleic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Palmitates / pharmacology*
  • Pentose Phosphate Pathway / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Palmitates
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Oleic Acid