Interdisciplinary PhD in Structural and Computational Biology and Quantitative Biosciences

Lipid Species Offer Insights into Metabolic Health

Grad student Molly McDevittHeart disease is the number one killer in the United States, and high triglyceride levels in the blood are cited as just one of several risk factors. Millions of lipid panels, blood tests that look at cholesterol levels as well as triglycerides, are performed in clinics each year.

Two new Morgridge Institute for Research studies suggest the current tests, which measure the abundance of lipid classes, are insufficient. Rather, lipids identified and studied at the individual species level—instead of grouped in classes—may be better signatures of metabolic health.

The results were published online June 13, 2018, in Cell Systems as open access papers, one focusing on plasma lipid species and the second on liver lipid species.

Lipids, or fats, are incredibly important to human health, yet one of the hardest biomolecules to study. Harnessing advances in mass spectrometry technology, Morgridge scientists measured almost 150 lipid species in the blood and liver of mice and identified some that can act as signatures of healthy or unhealthy metabolic states.

For patients getting a lipid panel—something the American Heart Association suggests for everyone over the age of 20—results will include a reference to triglyceride levels. These tests look at triglycerides in bulk, as a group, and measure how much is in the blood.

But Molly McDevitt, a graduate student in biochemistry professor Dave Pagliarini’s lab at Morgridge and co-first author on the papers, says looking at individual species of triglycerides provides a much more accurate picture. McDevitt is a student in the Integrated Program in Biochemistry (IPiB), the joint graduate program of the Department of Biochemistry and Department of Biomolecular Chemistry.

Read more about this research at the link below.

URL: https://biochem.wisc.edu/news/2018/news-lipid-species-offer-insights-metabolic-health-2018-07-17