METLIN Molecule of the Month

Unraveling the Secrets of the Double Bond

Posted on September 22, 2022


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Stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD) 1 is a key enzyme in double bond formation. It is also known to be involved in stress signaling but the mechanism by which it does so has been a mystery - until now! PI (18:1/18:1) is the primary SCD1-derived metabolite that modulates stress signaling. Keep reading to learn more!

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The Skinny: An endogenous metabolite found to induce brown adipocytes

Posted on August 23, 2022


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Obesity is a major problem across the globe. One driver of obesity is white adipocytes and their primary function as energy storage centers. When energy intake is chronically greater than energy output, the excess energy is stored as triglycerides in white adipose tissue (WAT). Brown adipose tissue (BAT), unlike WAT, works to expend energy. Those at higher risk of obesity typically have lower levels of BAT, and our levels of BAT tend to decline as we age. Historically, pharmaceutical treatments have been aimed towards energy intake rather than attempting to increase the energy expended by BAT. A recent study has found a specific endogenous metabolite capable of inducing production of BAT. Keep reading to learn more!

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DHA: The Vitamin C of the Brain

Posted on July 15, 2022


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In honor of World Brain Day 2022, the METLIN Molecule of the Month is Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). DHA has many many roles in the brain giving it the nickname "the brain's vitamin C". Keep reading to find out what roles DHA plays in the brain, how DHA and its metabolites are affected by Influenza A virus and Staphyloccocus Pneumoniae, and more!

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7-Dehydrocholesterol: Cholesterol Precursor, Previtamin, and Smith-Lemli-Opitz Biomarker

Posted on June 21, 2022


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You may have never heard of 7-dehydrocholesterol (7-DHC) but that doesn’t mean that it’s not important! Not only is 7-DHC an important precursor to cholesterol, but it is also necessary to produce vitamin D3 in your skin. 7-DHC enables your skin to manufacture vitamin D3 from ultraviolet B (UV-B) rays from sun light – so, 7-DHC is also considered a provitamin of vitamin D3. Continue reading to learn how 7-DHC is now considered a biomarker of Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome!

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It's Not All About Drugs... Endogenous Molecules Can Be Therapeutics Too

Posted on May 23, 2022


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Until recently, bile acids were primarily known as digestive surfactants to aid the absorption of lipids or as the primary pathway for cholesterol catabolism. But we now recognize bile acids as hormones. Lithocholic acid (LCA) is a secondary bile acid that acts like many other bile acids and aids the absorption of lipids in digestion. But that’s not all this bile acid does. Research has indicated that LCA can activate vitamin D receptor without raising calcium levels as high as Vitamin D itself. LCA has also been shown to bind with the NAPE-PLD enzyme and catalyze the release of anandamide and other N-acetylethanolamines. But one of the more interesting applications of LCA was discovered just last year. Read the full story!

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How A Lipid Garnered Two Academy Awards

Posted on April 15, 2022


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The Oscar winning film “Lorenzo’s Oil” garnering two Academy Awards, the olive oil sitting on your kitchen counter, Avanti Polar Lipids, and Croda – what do these all have in common? Find out the answer in this month's METLIN Molecule of the Month!

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Desmosterol - Master Regulator of Lipid Metabolism

Posted on February 18, 2022


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Cholesterol is the sterol that gets most of the attention in human biology, however desmosterol is an underappreciated cousin. For example, desmosterol is the immediate precursor to cholesterol in one of two cholesterol biosynthesis pathways - the Bloch pathway of cholesterol biosynthesis. As the immediate precursor to cholesterol, desmosterol is structurally very similar to cholesterol with the only difference being a double bond located on the side chain between C24 and C25. Despite the similar structures of these two molecules, they have surprisingly different physiological roles, desmosterol demonstrating itself as a master regulator of lipid metabolism.

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N,N-Dimethyl Sphingosine: What a Pain!

Posted on January 18, 2022


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Our first METLIN Molecule of the Month is N,N-dimethylsphingosine (DMS), a lipid with multiple physiological activities. DMS and its relationship to neuropathic pain was first released in Nature Chemical Biology 2012 using an approach now called “activity metabolomics”. In 2017, DMS was also shown to have therapeutic impact on chronic Chagas disease cardiomyopathy, a disease caused by the parasite Trypanasoma cruzi.

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