Triglyceride profiling in adipose tissues from obese insulin sensitive, insulin resistant and type 2 diabetes mellitus individuals

J Transl Med. 2018 Jun 26;16(1):175. doi: 10.1186/s12967-018-1548-x.


Background: Lipid intermediates produced during triacylglycerols (TAGs) synthesis and lipolysis in adipocytes interfere with the intracellular insulin signaling pathway and development of insulin resistance. This study aims to compare TAG species and their fatty acid composition in adipose tissues from insulin sensitive (IS), insulin resistant (IR) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) obese individuals.

Methods: Human subcutaneous and omental adipose tissue biopsies were obtained from 64 clinically characterized obese individuals during weight reduction surgery. TAGs were extracted from the adipose tissues using the Bligh and Dyer method, then were subjected to non-aqueous reverse phase ultra-high performance liquid chromatography and full scan mass spectrometry acquisition and data dependent MS/MS on LTQ dual cell linear ion trap. TAGs and their fatty acid contents were identified and compared between IS, IR and T2DM individuals and their levels were correlated with metabolic traits of participants and the adipogenic potential of preadipocyte cultures established from their adipose tissues.

Results: Data revealed 76 unique TAG species in adipose tissues identified based on their exact mass. Analysis of TAG levels revealed a number of TAGs that were significantly altered with disease progression including C46:4, C48:5, C48:4, C38:1, C50:3, C40:2, C56:3, C56:4, C56:7 and C58:7. Enrichment analysis revealed C12:0 fatty acid to be associated with TAGs least abundant in T2DM whereas C18:3 was found in both depleted and enriched TAGs in T2DM. Significant correlations of various adipose tissue-derived TAG species and metabolic traits were observed, including age and body mass index, systemic total cholesterol, TAGs, and interleukin-6 in addition to adipogenic potential of preadipocytes derived from the same adipose tissues.

Conclusion: Pilot data suggest that adipose tissues from obese IR and T2DM individuals exhibit TAG-specific signatures that may contribute to their increased risk compared to their IS counterparts. Future experiments are warranted to investigate the functional relevance of these specific lipidomic profiles.

Keywords: Adipose tissue; Insulin resistance; Insulin sensitivity; Lipidomics; Triaclyglycerols; Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Least-Squares Analysis
  • Male
  • Molecular Weight
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Omentum / metabolism
  • Subcutaneous Fat / metabolism
  • Triglycerides / metabolism*


  • Fatty Acids
  • Triglycerides