Fatty acid metabolism and cardiometabolic diseases

Contact persons: Dr. Susanne Jäger, Dr. Fabian Eichelmann, Dr. Rafael Cuadrat, Dr. Clemens Wittenbecher

Fatty acids in bio samples can be analyzed using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. (Photo: Till Budde/DIfE)

We are researching the role of fatty acids in the incidence of type 2 diabetes using biochemical markers and genetic analysis in the EPIC-Potsdam study. We could establish strong associations e.g. for polyunsaturated n-6 fatty acids (n-6-PUFA). To demonstrate biological mechanisms of these associations, the focus was on the delta-5 and delta-6 desaturases. These are enzymes that are involved in PUFA metabolism. An approach in which we were able to find genetic determinants for diabetes-associated lipid metabolites also supports the fact that PUFA's metabolism is relevant for the risk of diabetes. In addition, data-based hypotheses are generated on metabolic pathways that link food consumption with the risk of diabetes. Our analyzes support e.g. that specific phosphatidylcholines and sphingomyelines, along with ferritin and glycine, are potential mediators of the relationship between red meat and type 2 diabetes.

Although we have observed that fatty acid concentrations in phospholipids and certain serum lipid metabolites are associated with the risk of type 2 diabetes, the role of fatty acid composition within lipid classes for cardiometabolic diseases remains unclear. Our goal is therefore to identify novel lipidomics biomarkers. The lipidomics platform used allows both the quantification of lipid metabolites and the determination of their fatty acid composition in different lipid classes. Lipidomics profiles are examined in the EPIC-Potsdam study with regard to the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In addition, the relationships between diets and the consumption of specific foods and the tissue status of fatty acids are to be established in order to demonstrate the effects of diet and cardiometabolic health

As part of the FAME (Fatty Acid Metabolism - Interlinking Diet with Cardiometabolic Health) consortium, coordinated by us, results from the EPIC-Potsdam study will be verified in various controlled intervention studies (including PREDIMED, CORDIOPREV and LIPGENE). Also, extensive genetic and epigenetic data have been generated in the EPIC-Potsdam study. It can be used to identify determinants of fatty acid metabolism that change the effect of food.


Individual Projects

  • Gene-environment interactions to identify subgroups with different dietary responses, DZD – BMBF/State of Brandenburg
  • Epigenetic markers as risk markers for type 2 diabetes, DZD – BMBF/ State of Brandenburg
  • Fatty Acid Metabolism – Interlinking Diet with Cardiometabolic Health (FAME), EU (JPI HDHL)