Sphingolipids control dermal fibroblast heterogeneity

Science. 2022 Apr 15;376(6590):eabh1623. doi: 10.1126/science.abh1623. Epub 2022 Apr 15.


Human cells produce thousands of lipids that change during cell differentiation and can vary across individual cells of the same type. However, we are only starting to characterize the function of these cell-to-cell differences in lipid composition. Here, we measured the lipidomes and transcriptomes of individual human dermal fibroblasts by coupling high-resolution mass spectrometry imaging with single-cell transcriptomics. We found that the cell-to-cell variations of specific lipid metabolic pathways contribute to the establishment of cell states involved in the organization of skin architecture. Sphingolipid composition is shown to define fibroblast subpopulations, with sphingolipid metabolic rewiring driving cell-state transitions. Therefore, cell-to-cell lipid heterogeneity affects the determination of cell states, adding a new regulatory component to the self-organization of multicellular systems.

MeSH terms

  • Fibroblasts* / chemistry
  • Fibroblasts* / classification
  • Fibroblasts* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipidomics / methods
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Skin* / chemistry
  • Skin* / metabolism
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods
  • Sphingolipids* / analysis
  • Sphingolipids* / metabolism
  • Transcriptome


  • Sphingolipids