Everything about lipids

What are lipids? Why are lipids important? What is lipidomics?
Lipid biologists, medical researchers and bioinformatics experts explain lipid research.

What are lipids

Ceramides

Triglycerides

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is an essential structural component of animal cell membranes. It is critical to lipid rafts, small subunits of the cell membrane, which are involved in functions like cell communication.

doi.org/10.1038/nrm2977

Triglycerides are the main constituent of body fat and play an important role in energy storage. They are of special interest in research of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fat to tackle obesity-associated diseases.

doi.org/10.1016/j.molmet.2019.01...

Ceramides participate in a variety of cellular signaling, the communication processes of cells. For instance, they are involved in regulating cell size and growth depending on nutrient availability.

doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2017.11.069

Building blocks of life.

Lipids are a diverse group of small molecules. From glycerolipids, to sterol lipids and sphingolipids – there are thousands of distinct lipids. Each of them is chemically unique and they have many different biological functions.

One biological role is to form the matrix of cell membranes, where they support a variety of vital functions. But lipids also function as energy storage, and serve as hormones, essential nutrients or cellular signaling molecules too. More and more we find functions related to individual lipid molecules.

 

Ceramides

Triglycerides

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is an essential structural component of animal cell membranes. It is critical to lipid rafts, small subunits of the cell membrane, which are involved in functions like cell communication.

doi.org/10.1038/nrm2977

Triglycerides are the main constituent of body fat and play an important role in energy storage. They are of special interest in research of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fat to tackle obesity-associated diseases.

doi.org/10.1016/j.molmet.2019.01...

Ceramides participate in a variety of cellular signaling, the communication processes of cells. For instance, they are involved in regulating cell size and growth depending on nutrient availability.

doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2017.11.069

Why are lipids important

Cancer

Depression

Stroke+

Diabetes

A disordered lipid metabolism (dyslipidemia) can be the result but also cause of diabetes. In patients with diabetes, the lipid levels of phosphatidylcholines and triacylglycerides are impaired.

doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.116.004503

Stroke and ischaemic heart disease are the leading causes of death. Both are accompanied by impaired cholesterol ester levels. Routine testing can help predict and prevent both cardiovascular diseases.

doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-3311...

The majority of cancers is aneuploid, they have an abnormal number of chromosomes. This influences the cancer cells’ sphingolipids levels which can be used to specifically tackle these cancer cells.

doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2017.11.103

Gangliosides, sphingomyelins, phospholipids - the human brain has one of the most complex lipid profiles. In patients with depression, the vulnerable lipid framework of the brain is vastly altered.

doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00459

Lipids in health and disease.

In humans, there are more than 2000 different lipids which are linked to health and disease. Their molecular interplay with genes, proteins and metabolites influences our well-being. This interplay is strongly affected by the cellular supply of each of these lipids.

‘Healthy’ means all lipids are perfectly balanced. Each cell must constantly adjust its lipid metabolism to achieve this goal. A disordered lipid metabolism poses a direct threat to health and life. It can fuel the development and even cause severe diseases.

 

Lipids in pharma, food & cosmetics 

 

Depression

Cancer

Stroke +

Diabetes

A disordered lipid metabolism (dyslipidemia) can be the result but also cause of diabetes. In patients with diabetes, the lipid levels of phosphatidylcholines and triacylglycerides are impaired.

doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.116.004503

Stroke and ischaemic heart disease are the leading causes of death. Both are accompanied by impaired cholesterol ester levels. Routine testing can help predict and prevent both cardiovascular diseases.

doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-3311...

The majority of cancers is aneuploid, they have an abnormal number of chromosomes. This influences the cancer cells’ sphingolipids levels which can be used to specifically tackle these cancer cells.

doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2017.11.103

Gangliosides, sphingomyelins, phospholipids - the human brain has one of the most complex lipid profiles. In patients with depression, the vulnerable lipid framework of the brain is vastly altered.

doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00459

Shotgun Lipidomics

Results

Data

Technology

The mass spectrometer measures the specific mass of each lipid molecule. Incorporating additional physical parameters, the device generates complex mass spectra from it with millions of data points.

doi.org/10.1002/ejlt.201500145

Mass spectra hold massive information. Among it: the type of lipid molecules and their respective amounts. Bioinformatics solutions decipher the mass spectra and extract the relevant biological data.

doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0029...

Bio-statistics puts the lipid data to the test. Thousands of data points per biological sample are processed to identify patterns that can distinguish between information such as healthy and diseased.

The research questions of our time.

Testing selected lipid molecules provides only a glimpse at the state of health. Measuring all lipids at once paints the big picture, a full lipidome. The technical solution to this is shotgun lipidomics, where thousands of lipids from biological samples are analyzed at once.

The lipids are shot into a mass spectrometer. Bioinformatics solutions and bio-statistical methods convert the mass spectrometer results into powerful lipidomics charts. These extended lipid profiles tell all about the lipids of the original biological sample.

 

Lipotype Shotgun Lipidomics

 

Results

Data

Technology

The mass spectrometer measures the specific mass of each lipid molecule. Incorporating additional physical parameters, the device generates complex mass spectra from it with millions of data points.

doi.org/10.1002/ejlt.201500145

Mass spectra hold massive information. Among it: the type of lipid molecules and their respective amounts. Bioinformatics solutions decipher the mass spectra and extract the relevant biological data.

doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0029...

Bio-statistics puts the lipid data to the test. Thousands of data points per biological sample are processed to identify patterns that can distinguish between information such as healthy and diseased.

How to become a Lipidomics expert

The answer is as simple as elegant: studying. Which is why we created the Lipidomics Resource Center, an online platform which provides better access to lipidomics publications – for free, to everybody.

 

Access Lipodomics Resource Center 

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on August 22, 2019