Using total plasma triacylglycerol to assess hepatic de novo lipogenesis as an alternative to VLDL triacylglycerol

Leanne Hodson, Sion A. Parry, Thomas Cornfield, Catriona Charlton, Wee Suan Low, Charlotte J. Green, Fredrik Rosqvist*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Hepatic de novo lipogenesis (DNL) is ideally measured in very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL)-triacylglycerol (TAG). In the fasting state, the majority of plasma TAG typically represents VLDL-TAG; however, the merits of measuring DNL in total plasma TAG have not been assessed. This study aimed to assess the performance of DNL measured in VLDL-TAG (DNLVLDL-TAG) compared to that measured in total plasma TAG (DNLPlasma-TAG). Methods: Using deuterated water, newly synthesised palmitate was determined in fasting plasma VLDL-TAG and total TAG in 63 subjects taking part in multiple studies resulting in n = 123 assessments of DNL (%new palmitate of total palmitate). Subjects were split into tertiles to investigate if DNLPlasma-TAG could correctly classify subjects having ‘high’ (top tertile) and ‘low’ (bottom tertile) DNL. Repeatability was assessed in a subgroup (n = 16) with repeat visits. Results: DNLVLDL-TAG was 6.8% (IQR 3.6–10.7%) and DNLPlasma-TAG was 7.5% (IQR 4.0%−11.0%), and the correlation between the methods was rs = 0.62 (p < 0.0001). Bland–Altman plots demonstrated similar performance (mean difference 0.81%, p = 0.09); however, the agreement interval was wide (−9.6% to 11.2%). Compared to DNLVLDL-TAG, 54% of subjects with low DNL were correctly classified, whilst 66% of subjects with high DNL were correctly classified using DNLPlasma-TAG. Repeatability was acceptable (i.e. not different) at the group level, but the majority of subjects had an intra-individual variability over 25%. Conclusion: DNL in total plasma TAG performed similarly to DNL in VLDL-TAG at the group level, but there was large variability at the individual level. We suggest that plasma TAG could be useful for comparing DNL between groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-216
Number of pages6
JournalUpsala Journal of Medical Sciences
Issue number3
Early online date25 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2020


  • De novo lipogenesis
  • DNL
  • hepatic
  • human
  • triacylglycerol
  • VLDL


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