BioFiles Volume 5, Number 7 — Lipid Metabolism

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Introduction

Roland
Roland Wohlgemuth

After sequencing the human genome, life scientists are now in the era “beyond the genome” and confronting the challenges of bringing this information to life. For lipid researchers, unraveling the complexities of lipid metabolism will bring answers and opportunities in fields as diverse as medicine and biofuels. Today, lipid research addresses all aspects of cell biology including cell structure, energy storage and generation, and cell signaling. The synergies between classical lipid research, systems biology, and the advancement of lipid detection technologies have led to a revolution in lipid biology and the emergence of lipidomics as a branch of metabolomics.

Lipid-based diseases are a growing and expensive challenge to health care systems. As a population ages, chronic conditions associated with aging such as cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disorders, and metabolic disorders take increasing tolls in terms of morbidity and mortality. Oxidation of lipids and lipid metabolites has been linked to disorders of aging like osteoporosis and vascular calcification. Additionally, research is now trying to explain how dysregulations in lipid metabolism may underlie diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, and asthma. Lipid synthesis pathways, such as the methyl-Derythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway of isoprenoid synthesis, are being investigated as potential targets for antibacterial therapies and drug targets. As changes in lipid profiles can mark developmental stages or more ominously, pathological states, there is great potential for the use of lipids as biomarkers. Experimental quantification of the levels of lipids and lipid metabolites is therefore essential for enhancing the understanding of different influences such as genetic, nutritional, behavioral, and environmental factors. As part of our committment to metabolomics research, Sigma offers an expanding range of lipids and lipid metabolites for the mapping and study of healthy and diseased cells.

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