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Lipidomic analysis of human plasma reveals ether-linked lipids that are elevated in morbidly obese humans compared to lean

Elise L Donovan13*, Stefan M Pettine2, Matthew S Hickey1, Karyn L Hamilton1 and Benjamin F Miller1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Health and Exercise Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 8052, USA

2 Bariatric Center of the Rockies, Fort Collins, CO, USA

3 The Liggins Institute, University of Auckland, 85 Park Rd Grafton, Auckland, NZ 1142, New Zealand

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Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome 2013, 5:24  doi:10.1186/1758-5996-5-24

Published: 14 May 2013



Lipidomic analysis was performed to explore differences in lipid profiles between plasma from lean and obese subjects, followed by in vitro methods to examine a role for the identified lipids in endothelial cell pathophysiology.


Plasma was collected from 15 morbidly obese and 13 control subjects. Lipids were extracted from plasma and analyzed using LC/MS, and MS/MS to characterize lipid profiles and identify lipids that are elevated in obese subjects compared to lean.


Orthogonal partial least squares-discriminant analysis (OPLS-DA) modelling showed that lipid profiles were significantly different in obese subjects compared to lean. Analysis of lipids that were driving group separation in the OPLS-DA model and that were significantly elevated in the obese group led to identification of a group of ether-linked phosphatidylcholine (PC) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) lipids of interest. Treatment of human coronary artery endothelial cells with the ether-linked phosphatidylethanolamine induced expression of cell adhesion molecules, a hallmark of endothelial cell activation. However, oxidized phosphatidylcholine products that can induce endothelial cell activation in vitro, were not significantly different between groups in vivo.


These data suggest a role for ether-linked lipids in obesity associated dyslipidemia and vascular disease.

Lipidomics; Obesity; Dyslipidemia; Endothelial cells; Oxidized phospholipids