Lipidomic analysis of lipid droplets from murine hepatocytes reveals distinct signatures for nutritional stress

J Lipid Res. 2012 Oct;53(10):2141-2152. doi: 10.1194/jlr.M028902. Epub 2012 Aug 7.


Liver steatosis can be induced by fasting or high-fat diet. We investigated by lipidomic analysis whether such metabolic states are reflected in the lipidome of hepatocyte lipid droplets (LDs) from mice fed normal chow diet (FED), fasted (FAS), or fed a high-fat diet (HFD). LC-MS/MS at levels of lipid species profiles and of lipid molecular species uncovered a FAS phenotype of LD enriched in triacylglycerol (TG) molecular species with very long-chain (VLC)-PUFA residues and an HFD phenotype with less unsaturated TG species in addition to characteristic lipid marker species. Nutritional stress did not result in dramatic structural alterations in diacylglycerol (DG) and phospholipid (PL) classes. Moreover, molecular species of bulk TG and of DG indicated concomitant de novo TG synthesis and lipase-catalyzed degradation to be active in LDs. DG species with VLC-PUFA residues would be preferred precursors for phosphatidylcholine (PC) species, the others for TG molecular species. In addition, molecular species of PL classes fitted the hepatocyte Kennedy and phosphatidylethanolamine methyltransferase pathways. We demonstrate that lipidomic analysis of LDs enables phenotyping of nutritional stress. TG species are best suited for such phenotyping, whereas structural analysis of TG, DG, and PL molecular species provides metabolic insights.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet, High-Fat
  • Diglycerides / metabolism
  • Fasting
  • Hepatocytes / chemistry
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism*
  • Lipase / metabolism
  • Lipids / analysis*
  • Liver / chemistry
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Phosphatidylcholines / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylethanolamine N-Methyltransferase / metabolism
  • Stress, Physiological*
  • Triglycerides / metabolism


  • 1,2-diacylglycerol
  • Diglycerides
  • Lipids
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Triglycerides
  • Phosphatidylethanolamine N-Methyltransferase
  • Lipase