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Imaging and lipidomics methods for lipid analysis in metabolic and cardiovascular disease

  • K. G. Stevens (a1) (a2), C. A. Bader (a2), A. Sorvina (a2), D. A. Brooks (a2), S. E. Plush (a2) and J. L. Morrison (a1)...


Cardiometabolic diseases exhibit changes in lipid biology, which is important as lipids have critical roles in membrane architecture, signalling, hormone synthesis, homoeostasis and metabolism. However, Developmental Origins of Health and Disease studies of cardiometabolic disease rarely include analysis of lipids. This short review highlights some examples of lipid pathology and then explores the technology available for analysing lipids, focussing on the need to develop imaging modalities for intracellular lipids. Analytical methods for studying interactions between the complex endocrine and intracellular signalling pathways that regulate lipid metabolism have been critical in expanding our understanding of how cardiometabolic diseases develop in association with obesity and dietary factors. Biochemical methods can be used to generate detailed lipid profiles to establish links between lifestyle factors and metabolic signalling pathways and determine how changes in specific lipid subtypes in plasma and homogenized tissue are associated with disease progression. New imaging modalities enable the specific visualization of intracellular lipid traffic and distribution in situ. These techniques provide a dynamic picture of the interactions between lipid storage, mobilization and signalling, which operate during normal cell function and are altered in many important diseases. The development of methods for imaging intracellular lipids can provide a dynamic real-time picture of how lipids are involved in complex signalling and other cell biology pathways; and how they ultimately regulate metabolic function/homoeostasis during early development. Some imaging modalities have the potential to be adapted for in vivo applications, and may enable the direct visualization of progression of pathogenesis of cardiometabolic disease after poor growth in early life.


Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: J. L. Morrison, Early Origins of Adult Health Research Group, School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia, GPO Box 2471, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia.(Email


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S. E. Plush and J. L. Morrison contributed equally to this article.



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