Purpose of review: Multiple studies have shown a strong association between lipids and diabetes. These are usually described through the effects of cholesterol content of lipid particles and in particular low-density lipoprotein. However, lipoprotein particles contain other components, such as phospholipids and more complex lipid species, such as ceramides and sphingolipids. Ceramides, such as sphingolipids are also produced intracellularly and have signalling actions in regulating cell metabolism including effects on inflammation, and potentially have a mechanistic role in the development of insulin resistance.
Recent findings: Recently, techniques have been developed to analyse detailed molecular profiles of lipid particles - lipidomics. Proteomics has confirmed the different proteins associated with different particles but far less is known about the relationship of individual lipid species with diabetes and cardiovascular risk. A number of studies have now shown that the plasma lipidome, and in particular, ceramides and sphingolipids may predict the development of diabetes.
Summary: Lipidomics had identified ceramides and sphingolipids as potential mediators of cellular dysfunction in diabetes. Further work is required to ascertain whether they have clinical utility.
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