Shotgun Lipidomics Discovered Diurnal Regulation of Lipid Metabolism Linked to Insulin Sensitivity in Nondiabetic Men

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2020 May 1;105(5):dgz176. doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgz176.


Context: Meal timing affects metabolic homeostasis and body weight, but how composition and timing of meals affect plasma lipidomics in humans is not well studied.

Objective: We used high throughput shotgun plasma lipidomics to investigate effects of timing of carbohydrate and fat intake on lipid metabolism and its relation to glycemic control.

Design: 29 nondiabetic men consumed (1) a high-carb test meal (MTT-HC) at 09.00 and a high-fat meal (MTT-HF) at 15.40; or (2) MTT-HF at 09.00 and MTT-HC at 15.40. Blood was sampled before and 180 minutes after completion of each MTT. Subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) was collected after overnight fast and both MTTs. Prior to each investigation day, participants consumed a 4-week isocaloric diet of the same composition: (1) high-carb meals until 13.30 and high-fat meals between 16.30 and 22:00 or (2) the inverse order.

Results: 12 hour daily lipid patterns showed a complex regulation by both the time of day (67.8%) and meal composition (55.4%). A third of lipids showed a diurnal variation in postprandial responses to the same meal with mostly higher responses in the morning than in the afternoon. Triacylglycerols containing shorter and more saturated fatty acids were enriched in the morning. SAT transcripts involved in fatty acid synthesis and desaturation showed no diurnal variation. Diurnal changes of 7 lipid classes were negatively associated with insulin sensitivity, but not with glucose and insulin response or insulin secretion.

Conclusions: This study identified postprandial plasma lipid profiles as being strongly affected by meal timing and associated with insulin sensitivity.

Trial registration: NCT02487576.

Keywords: circadian clock; glucose metabolism; insulin sensitivity; lipid metabolism; meal timing; plasma lipidome.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism / drug effects
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism / physiology
  • Circadian Rhythm / drug effects
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diet, High-Fat
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / pharmacology
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects
  • Lipid Metabolism / physiology*
  • Lipidomics / methods
  • Male
  • Meals
  • Middle Aged
  • Postprandial Period / drug effects


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Insulin

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.9988328