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Curr Opin Lipidol. 2003 Jun;14(3):289-97.

Letting lipids go: hormone-sensitive lipase.

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Institute of Molecular Biology, Karl-Franzens University, Graz, Autria.



Despite their pathophysiological importance, the molecular mechanisms and enzymatic components of lipid mobilization from intracellular storage compartments are insufficiently understood. The aim of this review is to evaluate the role of hormone-sensitive lipase in this process.


Hormone-sensitive lipase exhibits a broad specificity for lipid substrates such as triglycerides, diglycerides, cholesteryl esters, and retinyl esters and the enzyme is in a wide variety of tissues. The high enzyme activity in adipose tissue was considered rate-limiting in the degradation of stored triglycerides. This view of a single enzyme controlling the catabolism of stored fat was challenged by recent findings that in hormone-sensitive lipase deficient mice adipose tissue triglycerides were still hydrolyzed and that these animals were leaner than normal mice. These results indicated that in adipose tissue hormone-sensitive lipase cooperates with other yet unidentified lipases to control the mobilization of fatty acids from cellular depots and that this process is coordinately regulated with lipid synthesis. Induced mutant mouse lines that overexpress or lack hormone-sensitive lipase also provided evidence that hormone-sensitive lipase-mediated cholesteryl ester hydrolysis is involved in steroid-hormone production in adrenals and affects testis function. Finally, hormone-sensitive lipase deficiency in mice results in a lipoprotein profile characterized by low triglyceride and VLDL levels and increased HDL cholesterol concentrations.


The 'anti-atherosclerotic' plasma lipoprotein profile and the fact that hormone-sensitive lipase deficient animals become lean identifies the inhibition of hormone-sensitive lipase as a potential target for the treatment of lipid disorders and obesity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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