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Mol Metab. 2015 Mar 20;4(5):367-77. doi: 10.1016/j.molmet.2015.03.004. eCollection 2015 May.

De novo lipogenesis in metabolic homeostasis: More friend than foe?

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Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, Wallenberg Laboratory, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Division of Physiology, Department of Medicine, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland.



An acute surplus of carbohydrates, and other substrates, can be converted and safely stored as lipids in adipocytes via de novo lipogenesis (DNL). However, in obesity, a condition characterized by chronic positive energy balance, DNL in non-adipose tissues may lead to ectopic lipid accumulation leading to lipotoxicity and metabolic stress. Indeed, DNL is dynamically recruited in liver during the development of fatty liver disease, where DNL is an important source of lipids. Nonetheless, a number of evidences indicates that DNL is an inefficient road for calorie to lipid conversion and that DNL may play an important role in sustaining metabolic homeostasis.


In this manuscript, we discuss the role of DNL as source of lipids during obesity, the energetic efficiency of this pathway in converting extra calories to lipids, and the function of DNL as a pathway supporting metabolic homeostasis.


We conclude that inhibition of DNL in obese subjects, unless coupled with a correction of the chronic positive energy balance, may further promote lipotoxicity and metabolic stress. On the contrary, strategies aimed at specifically activating DNL in adipose tissue could support metabolic homeostasis in obese subjects by a number of mechanisms, which are discussed in this manuscript.


Ectopic lipids; Glucose disposal; Lipokines; Metabolic flexibility; Obesity; Thermogenesis

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