Lipid Replacement Therapy: a natural medicine approach to replacing damaged lipids in cellular membranes and organelles and restoring function

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014 Jun;1838(6):1657-79. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2013.11.010. Epub 2013 Nov 21.


Lipid Replacement Therapy, the use of functional oral supplements containing cell membrane phospholipids and antioxidants, has been used to replace damaged, usually oxidized, membrane glycerophospholipids that accumulate during aging and in various clinical conditions in order to restore cellular function. This approach differs from other dietary and intravenous phospholipid interventions in the composition of phospholipids and their defense against oxidation during storage, ingestion, digestion and uptake as well as the use of protective molecules that noncovalently complex with phospholipid micelles and prevent their enzymatic and bile disruption. Once the phospholipids have been taken in by transport processes, they are protected by several natural mechanisms involving lipid receptors, transport and carrier molecules and circulating cells and lipoproteins until their delivery to tissues and cells where they can again be transferred to intracellular membranes by specific and nonspecific transport systems. Once delivered to membrane sites, they naturally replace and stimulate removal of damaged membrane lipids. Various chronic clinical conditions are characterized by membrane damage, mainly oxidative but also enzymatic, resulting in loss of cellular function. This is readily apparent in mitochondrial inner membranes where oxidative damage to phospholipids like cardiolipin and other molecules results in loss of trans-membrane potential, electron transport function and generation of high-energy molecules. Recent clinical trials have shown the benefits of Lipid Replacement Therapy in restoring mitochondrial function and reducing fatigue in aged subjects and patients with a variety of clinical diagnoses that are characterized by loss of mitochondrial function and include fatigue as a major symptom. This Article is Part of a Special Issue Entitled: Membrane Structure and Function: Relevance in the Cell's Physiology, Pathology and Therapy.

Keywords: Degenerative illnesses; Fatigue; Inflammasome; Lipid oxidation; Membrane phospholipids; Mitochondrial function.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Membrane Lipids / pharmacology*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Organelles / drug effects
  • Organelles / metabolism*


  • Biological Products
  • Membrane Lipids