Emerging Technologies and their Applications in Lipid Compartment Measurement

Steven B. Heymsfield, Houchun Harry Hu, Wei Shen, Owen Carmichael

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Non-Communicable diseases (NCDs), including obesity, are emerging as the major health concern of the 21st century. Excess adiposity and related NCD metabolic disturbances have stimulated development of new lipid compartment measurement technologies to help us to understand cellular energy exchange, to refine phenotypes, and to develop predictive markers of adverse clinical outcomes. Recent advances now allow quantification of multiple intracellular lipid and adipose tissue compartments that can be evaluated across the human lifespan. With magnetic resonance methods leading the way, newer approaches will give molecular structural and metabolic information beyond the laboratory in real-world settings. The union between these new technologies and the growing NCD population is creating an exciting interface in advancing our understanding of chronic disease mechanisms. Not long ago the main measurable lipid compartment was total body fat, mainly triglyceride, in adults. Advances now enable investigators to quantify lipid compartments in vivo that range in size from microscopic intracellular lipid-containing organelles found in a wide range of tissues, to those that account for a large fraction of body weight, across the human lifespan. This emerging area of lipid compartment measurement in vivo is providing new insights into the pathophysiology of multiple disease states, notably non-communicable chronic diseases. Future developments promise to go beyond measurements of lipid compartment size, to lipid structural and dynamic estimates, with metabolic insights gained by moving from restricted laboratory settings to real-world conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)688-698
Number of pages11
JournalTrends in Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Adiposity
  • Body composition
  • Imaging
  • Metabolism
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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