Demystifying the fat world of lipids

What are lipids

Lipids are hydrocarbon molecules – like fats and oils – that form the building blocks of human cell membranes and store energy that is released to the body through a variety of metabolic pathways. “The extremely diverse nature of lipids means that not only is it challenging to identify and determine species, but also to quantify their role as signaling molecules in physiology and disease,” says Makoto Arita, Professor at the Keio University Faculty of Pharmacy. “My research focuses on gaining insight into the structure and functions of lipids that control inflammation and tissue homeostasis.1 My approach is based on analyzing lipids using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS / MS) – an extremely powerful one Tool for lipidomics research that has recently enabled us to elucidate a wide variety of functional metabolites produced by gut microorganisms. “

Advanced non-targeted lipidomics for gut microorganisms

Professor Arita recently reported in collaboration with colleagues at RIKEN, where he is team leader of the Metabolomics Laboratory at the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences, on the development of a new lipidomics technology for the analysis of complex lipid metabolites produced by intestinal microorganisms.2,3 ” The new lipidomics technology combines non-targeted mass spectrometry to enable unbiased comprehensive analysis with feature-based molecular spectrum crosslinking that supports the structural estimation of unknown molecules, ”explains Arita.

The research team used mice treated with various combinations of antibiotics to successfully identify 985 lipid structures in feces, approximately 24.8% of which appeared to be dependent on gut microorganisms, as determined by a more than 10-fold decrease in antibiotic-treated mice has been. They also identified unique lipid structures that are directly related to gut microorganisms, including acyl-alpha-hydroxyl fatty acid (AAHFA). Notably, this approach accurately predicted the bacterial species responsible for the production of AAHFA and other unique lipid structures.

“We expect this research to lead to unprecedented insights into the complex lipid metabolism networks that result from the interaction between gut microorganisms and their hosts,” says Arita. “Ultimately, this research could potentially lead to the discovery of new functional metabolites that are involved in host homeostasis and disease onset.”

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  1. H. Tsugawa et al., A Lipidoma Atlas in MS-DIAL 4, Nat Biotechnol 38, 1159-1163, (2020).
  2. S. Yasuda et al., Elucidation of Gut Microbiota-Associated Lipids Using LC-MS / MS and 16S rRNA Sequence Analyzes, iScience, 23, 101841, (2020).
  3. N. Okahashi et al., Global Profiling of Gut Microbiota-Associated Lipid Metabolites in Antibiotic-Treated Mice by LC-MS / MS-Based Analysis, STAR Protocols, 2, 100492, (2021).


Makoto Arita information

About Keio University

Keio University is a private full university with six major locations in Greater Tokyo along with a number of affiliated academic institutions. Keio prides itself on its excellent educational and research achievements in a variety of fields and its state-of-the-art university hospital.

Keio was founded in 1858 and is Japan first modern university. Over the past century and a half, it has become a leading university in. continues to develop and maintain its status Japan through his ongoing commitment to creating leaders of the future. founder Yukichi Fukuzawa, a highly respected educator and one of the most important intellectuals of the modern age Japan, strived for Keio to be a pioneer of new discoveries and contribute to society.

additional Information

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Keio University
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