BioFiles Volume 5, Number 7 — Lipid Metabolism

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As the body′s major source of fuel, the study of fat metabolism is an area of interest and importance. The increased availability of stable isotopically labeled fatty acids and related compounds has aided in the steady accumulation of information surrounding lipid metabolism. Labeled fatty acids have been used in numerous research areas including fatty acid oxidation1 , lipid kinetics2 , quantitative lipid analyses3 , lipid synthesis4 , and fat absorption.1 Information gathered from stable isotope tracer studies has added to our understanding of the metabolic pathways and the metabolic fate of certain fatty acids.

The safe labeling of lipids by non-radioactive isotopes has been crucial for advancements in the study of the structural biology of membranes, magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy, nutrition science, and metabolomics. The availability of 13C- and 15N-labeled lipids and lipid precursors has enabled selective isotope labeling of membranes by biosynthetic incorporation of a labeled lipid. Lipid metabolism can therefore be studied in several dimensions: at the whole organism level, at the level of individual membranes, or in the small molecule pathways of lipid conversions.

Isotopically Labeled Metabolites


  1. Wolfe, R.R. and Chinkes, D.L.; Isotope Tracers in Metabolic Research, Principles and Practice of Kinetic Analysis, 2nd ed.; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: Hoboken New Jersey, 2005; pp 259-298
  2. Adiels, M., Larsson, T., Sutton, P., Taskinen, M.-R., Borén, J., and Fielding, B.A.; Rapid Commun. Mass Spectrom . 2010 , 24 , 586-592.
  3. Sun, D., Cree, M.G., and Wolfe, R.R.; Anal. Biochem. 2006 , 349 , 87-95.
  4. Bergman, B.C., Perreault, L., Hunerdosse, D.M., Koehler, M.C., Samek, A.M., and Eckel, R.H.; J. Appl. Physiol. 2010 , 108 , 1134-1141.
  5. Jauregui, R.C., Mattes, R.D., and Parks, E.J.; Gastroenterology 2010 , in press.

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