Tributes and methods: the July JLR

 

Honoring a lipid pioneer

The July issue of the Journal of Lipid Research contains a very special tribute to the first editor-in-chief of JLR. Daniel Steinberg of the University of California, San Diego, has written an “In Memoriam” piece on the late and distinguished Donald B. Zilversmit, who passed away at the age of 91 in September 2010. What is known today as the Journal of Lipid Research started as a humble idea— an initial application to the National Institutes of Health from Zilversmit to publish a handbook on lipid methods.

In the retrospective, Steinberg discusses some of Zilversmit’s groundbreaking research and novel notions. For example, one proposal, made in 1973, was that chylomicrons, a class of large lipoprotein molecules, might be significant in the process of atherogenesis— a concept that has since been supported by clinical studies. In his illustrious career, Zilversmit pioneered research into the turnover rates of phospholipids and made significant contributions to our understanding of glucose and glycogen metabolism. One particularly important contribution to the field of lipid research was his careful quantification of lipoproteins and their components as they entered the artery wall.

Zilversmit was a beloved member of the lipid community and will be sorely missed.

New and interesting methods

It seems rather fitting, for a journal that began as a methods handbook, that JLR has three remarkable methods papers in its July issue. In the first, Stephen F. Previs and colleagues at the Merck Research Laboratories confirm the advantages of using heavy water (2H2O) to quantify cholesterol synthesis in African green monkeys, suggesting the same technique could be used in humans.

The second methods paper comes from M. G. Ghosn, of the University of Houston, and colleagues who show that optical coherence tomography, a noninvasive and nondestructive near-infrared imaging technique, can be used to measure the rates at which molecules as small as glucose or as large as a lipoprotein permeate through arterial tissue.

And finally, in the third paper, Xuntian Jiang, of the Washington University School of Medicine, and colleagues explain their development of a sensitive and specific liquid chromatographic-tandem mass spectrometric method for quantifying two specific cholesterol oxidation products that are associated with Niemann-Pick type C1 disease, a rare and fatal neurodegenerative disorder. Jiang and colleagues describe a novel assay for diagnosing NPC1 that is both highly sensitive and quick.

Mary L. Chang (mchang@asbmb.org) is managing editor of the Journal of Lipid Research.

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