Ectopic fat

Project leader: Prof Patrick Schrauwen
Time frame: 2011 – 2015
Project code: WM003
Project login (project members only)



Obesity is a world-wide problem affecting the health of many people. It is not only characterised by excessive fat storage in white adipose tissue, but also as ectopic fat, present in, for example, heart, liver and muscles. Fat storage in these tissues leads to metabolic diseases such as insulin resistance, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. To date, very little is known about the causes of ectopic-fat accumulation, including the role of diet.The main goal of this project was to develop Carbon Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (13C-MRS) methodology to allow the tracking of 13C-labelled lipids into liver and muscle. An innovative (indirect) detection method, based on Heteronuclear Single Quantum Coherence (HSQC), has been developed and the feasibility of this method was already demonstrated in phantom experiments.

The HSQC methodology was optimised for use in in vivo experiments, and the first reproducibility experiments were performed, with positive outcomes. Proof-of-principle experiments, using the incorporation of 13C labelled lipids into a meal, were carried out. After this validation of the methodology in vivo, and optimisation of the 13C-fatty acid dose that needs to be ingested, the dynamics of ectopic fat storage can be investigated in relation to pathophysiology and food composition.