November 2011

JLR: Reviews highlight lipid droplets



Lipid droplets are functionally important in the human body. The components contained within lipid droplets in liver cells can be turned into lipoproteins. Lipid droplets of epithelial cells of the mammary gland figure into the nutritional value of breast milk. On an immune system level, it is hypothesized that lipid droplets play a role in macrophage function during phagocytosis. Hormones and transcription factors may get their start from what is enclosed in these interesting and biologically vital units.

When lipid droplets accumulate in an excessive way, common diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes and metabolic syndrome can occur. Lipid droplets are even implicated in the pathogenesis of bacteria and viruses such as hepatitis C, which infects approximately 3 percent of the world’s population.

The November issue of the Journal of Lipid Research marks the start of a new thematic review series on this very topic titled “From Lipid Droplet Storage and Metabolism: from Yeast to Man.” The series is being coordinated by Karen Reue of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Reue, a recognized expert in the field, also penned a special editorial for the issue that serves as a great introduction to the series. In the editorial, Reue explains why lipid droplet research is so hot right now: There has been increased recognition that lipid droplets are implicated in health and disease.

The series is unique in that it will explore lipid droplet biology and metabolism from an evolutionary point of view, examining the topic in yeast, nematodes, plants, fruit flies and mammals.

“GPIHBP1, an endothelial cell transporter for lipoprotein lipase,” the first review in the series by JLR Associate Editor Stephen G. Young of UCLA and colleagues, discusses what is known about GPIHBP1, a protein that has been shown to be involved with the transport of lipids and a facilitator of lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that makes components of lipids available for other uses in the body.

Mary L. Chang ( is managing editor of the Journal of Lipid Research and coordinating journal manager of Molecular and Cellular Proteomics. 

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