The Subtle Balance between Lipolysis and Lipogenesis: A Critical Point in Metabolic Homeostasis

Nutrients. 2015 Nov 13;7(11):9453-74. doi: 10.3390/nu7115475.


Excessive accumulation of lipids can lead to lipotoxicity, cell dysfunction and alteration in metabolic pathways, both in adipose tissue and peripheral organs, like liver, heart, pancreas and muscle. This is now a recognized risk factor for the development of metabolic disorders, such as obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease (NAFLD), cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The causes for lipotoxicity are not only a high fat diet but also excessive lipolysis, adipogenesis and adipose tissue insulin resistance. The aims of this review are to investigate the subtle balances that underlie lipolytic, lipogenic and oxidative pathways, to evaluate critical points and the complexities of these processes and to better understand which are the metabolic derangements resulting from their imbalance, such as type 2 diabetes and non alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Keywords: HCC; NAFLD; SCD-1; de novo lipogenesis; ectopic fat; fatty liver; glyceroneogenesis; lipolysis; lipotoxicity; saturated fat.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / etiology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects
  • Fatty Acids / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / administration & dosage
  • Heart / physiology
  • Homeostasis*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lipogenesis*
  • Lipolysis*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / etiology
  • Liver Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / etiology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / physiopathology
  • Pancreas / metabolism
  • Risk Factors


  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated