Scientists observe and investigate accumulation of lipid droplets in cells

The Virtual Liver Network group of Prof. Borlak, Hannover Medical School (MHH), aims to identify the molecular processes during fatty liver disease to better understand disease causing mechanisms. Therefore, research is focused on lipid droplet development under various stress conditions.

  • For this purpose, hepatoma cell lines such as HepG2 and Huh7 (cells from cancerous tumor occurring in the liver) are analyzed, as well as healthy hepatocytes and liver tissue from high fat diet fed animals. The time-dependent growth of lipid droplets inside the cells and related genetic responses are investigated.
  • Hence, scientists stimulated cells with unsaturated and saturated fatty acids to induce lipid storage in form of lipid droplets. Then, genes and proteins were analyzed that are specifically regulated during lipid droplets formation and growth were investigated. Unique candidate proteins were identified carrying the hope for a better understanding of disease causing mechanisms. Some of the identified proteins may also be explored for their therapeutic utility.
  • An image of fluorescent microscopy of lipid droplets in one of the investigated cell lines, HepG2, is depicted. Cells were treated with fatty acids showing lipid droplet accumulation in red (Oil red) and the cell nuclei in blue (DAPI).
  • Authors: Anna Trincone and Jürgen Borlak

  • Image: Anna Trincone

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