Compositional marker in vivo reveals intramyocellular lipid turnover during fasting-induced lipolysis

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Thankamony, Ajay 
Kemp, Graham J 
Bokii, Vlada 
Savage, David B 

Intramyocellular lipid (IMCL) is of particular metabolic interest, but despite many proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (¹H MRS) studies reporting IMCL content measured by the methylene (CH₂) resonance signal, little is known about its composition. Here we validated IMCL CH₃:CH₂ ratio as a compositional marker using ¹H MRS at short echo time, and investigated IMCL content and composition during a 28-hour fast in 24 healthy males. Increases in IMCL CH₂ relative to the creatine and phosphocreatine resonance (Cr) at 3.0 ppm (an internal standard) correlated with circulating free fatty acid (FA) concentrations, supporting the concept of increased FA influx into IMCL. Significant decreases in IMCL CH₃:CH₂ ratio indicated a less unsaturated IMCL pool after fasting, and this compositional change related inversely to IMCL baseline composition, suggesting a selective efflux of unsaturated shorter-chain FA from the IMCL pool. This novel in vivo evidence reveals IMCL turnover during extended fasting, consistent with the concept of a flexible, responsive myocellular lipid store. There were also differences between soleus and tibialis anterior in basal IMCL composition and in response to fasting. We discuss the potential of this marker for providing insights into normal physiology and mechanisms of disease.

Lipids, Medical research, Metabolism
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Scientific Reports
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Nature Publishing Group
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) (3360)
Medical Research Council (G0600717)
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/P028195/1)
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/M027252/2)
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_12012/5)
Wellcome Trust (107064/Z/15/Z)
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/M027252/1)
We thank the participants, staff at the Cambridge NIHR/Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility and the Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre, Sarah Nutland (NIHR Cambridge BioResource, Cambridge, UK) for facilitating participant recruitment and Edwina French (MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK) for help with phantoms. We acknowledge grants from Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust and the British Society for Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes. LH is a British Heart Foundation Senior Fellow in Basic Science. DBS is supported by the Wellcome Trust (107064). AT, AK and DBD are funded by the UK NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre and Medical Research Council (UD99999906), and AS by the NIHR via the NIHR Cambridge Clinical Research Facility.