Background: Obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2DM) are associated with increased circulating free fatty acids and triacylglycerols. However, very little is known about specific molecular lipid species associated with these diseases. In order to gain further insight into this, we performed plasma lipidomic analysis in a rodent model of obesity and insulin resistance as well as in lean, obese and obese individuals with T2DM.
Methodology/principal findings: Lipidomic analysis using liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry revealed marked changes in the plasma of 12 week high fat fed mice. Although a number of triacylglycerol and diacylglycerol species were elevated along with of a number of sphingolipids, a particularly interesting finding was the high fat diet (HFD)-induced reduction in lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) levels. As liver, skeletal muscle and adipose tissue play an important role in metabolism, we next determined whether the HFD altered LPCs in these tissues. In contrast to our findings in plasma, only very modest changes in tissue LPCs were noted. To determine when the change in plasma LPCs occurred in response to the HFD, mice were studied after 1, 3 and 6 weeks of HFD. The HFD caused rapid alterations in plasma LPCs with most changes occurring within the first week. Consistent with our rodent model, data from our small human cohort showed a reduction in a number of LPC species in obese and obese individuals with T2DM. Interestingly, no differences were found between the obese otherwise healthy individuals and the obese T2DM patients.
Conclusion: Irrespective of species, our lipidomic profiling revealed a generalized decrease in circulating LPC species in states of obesity. Moreover, our data indicate that diet and adiposity, rather than insulin resistance or diabetes per se, play an important role in altering the plasma LPC profile.