The Role of Lipid Droplets in Metabolic Disease in Rodents and Humans

J Clin Invest. 2011 Jun;121(6):2102-10. doi: 10.1172/JCI46069. Epub 2011 Jun 1.


Lipid droplets (LDs) are intracellular organelles that store neutral lipids within cells. Over the last two decades there has been a dramatic growth in our understanding of LD biology and, in parallel, our understanding of the role of LDs in health and disease. In its simplest form, the LD regulates the storage and hydrolysis of neutral lipids, including triacylglycerol and/or cholesterol esters. It is becoming increasingly evident that alterations in the regulation of LD physiology and metabolism influence the risk of developing metabolic diseases such as diabetes. In this review we provide an update on the role of LD-associated proteins and LDs in metabolic disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / physiology
  • Adipocytes / ultrastructure
  • Adipose Tissue / physiopathology*
  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Fatty Acids / adverse effects
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Fatty Liver / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / physiology
  • Lipids / physiology*
  • Lipolysis / physiology
  • Metabolic Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Triglycerides / metabolism
  • Vacuoles / physiology*


  • Fatty Acids
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Lipids
  • Triglycerides