Postprandial Plasma Lipidomics Reveal Specific Alteration of Hepatic-derived Diacylglycerols in Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Thomas J. Velenosi, Gil Ben-Yakov, Maren C. Podszun, Julian Hercun, Ohad Etzion, Shanna Yang, Cathy Nadal, Vanessa Haynes-Williams, Wen Chun A. Huang, Lila González-Hódar, Robert J. Brychta, Shogo Takahashi, Vikas Akkaraju, Kristopher W. Krausz, Mary Walter, Hongyi Cai, Peter J. Walter, Ranganath Muniyappa, Kong Y. Chen, Frank J. GonzalezYaron Rotman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Hepatic energy metabolism is a dynamic process modulated by multiple stimuli. In nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), human studies typically focus on the static fasting state. We hypothesized that unique postprandial alterations in hepatic lipid metabolism are present in NAFLD. Methods: In a prospective clinical study, 37 patients with NAFLD and 10 healthy control subjects ingested a standardized liquid meal with pre- and postprandial blood sampling. Postprandial plasma lipid kinetics were characterized at the molecular lipid species level by untargeted lipidomics, cluster analysis, and lipid particle isolation, then confirmed in a mouse model. Results: There was a specific increase of multiple plasma diacylglycerol (DAG) species at 4 hours postprandially in patients with NAFLD but not in controls. This was replicated in a nonalcoholic steatohepatitis mouse model, where postprandial DAGs increased in plasma and concomitantly decreased in the liver. The increase in plasma DAGs appears early in the disease course, is dissociated from NAFLD severity and obesity, and correlates with postprandial insulin levels. Immunocapture isolation of very low density lipoprotein in human samples and stable isotope tracer studies in mice revealed that elevated postprandial plasma DAGs reflect hepatic secretion of endogenous, rather than meal-derived lipids. Conclusions: We identified a selective insulin-related increase in hepatic secretion of endogenously derived DAGs after a mixed meal as a unique feature of NAFLD. DAGs are known to be lipotoxic and associated with atherosclerosis. Although it is still unknown whether the increased exposure to hepatic DAGs contributes to extrahepatic manifestations and cardiovascular risk in NAFLD, our study highlights the importance of extending NAFLD research beyond the fasting state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1990-2003
Number of pages14
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Diacylglycerols
  • Lipidomics
  • Mixed Meal
  • Postprandial Lipids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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