The effect of short-term overfeeding on serum lipids in healthy humans

Leonie Heilbronn, Adelle C.F. Coster, Lesley V. Campbell, Jerry R. Greenfield, Kylie Lange, Michael J. Christopher, Peter J. Meikle, Dorit Samocha-Bonet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives While chronic obesity is associated with alterations in circulating glycerolipids, sphingolipids and plasmalogens, the effects of short-term overfeeding in humans are unclear. Design and Methods Healthy individuals (n = 40) were overfed by 1,250 kcal day-1 for 28 days. Insulin sensitivity (hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp), abdominal fat distribution and serum lipidomics (mass spectrometry) were assessed. Results Overfeeding increased liver fat, insulin resistance, serum C-reactive protein and urinary F2-isoprostanes. HDL increased (11% ± 2%, P < 0.001) while LDL, triglycerides and nonesterified fatty acids were unchanged. Three hundred and thirty three serum lipids were detected, of which 13% increased and 20% decreased with overfeeding. Total diacylglycerol and lysoalkylphosphatidylcholine (LPC(O)) concentrations decreased (P < 0.01), while total ceramide, Cer22:0 and Cer24:0 increased (P ≤ 0.01). The most notable increases were observed in the HDL-associated phosphatidylethanolamine- based plasmalogens and their precursors alkylhosphatidylethanolamine (18 ± 5% and 38 ± 8% respectively, P ≤ 0.01). Conclusions Overfeeding led to weight gain and changes in the serum lipid profile. Increases in ceramides were noted, which left unchecked may promote systemic insulin resistance. Uniform increases were observed in plasmalogens and their precursors. Because plasmalogens are powerful antioxidants, this may be an appropriate response against increased oxidative stress generated by over-nutrition. The metabolic consequences of changes in concentrations of many circulating lipid species with overfeeding require further study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E649-E659
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Dec 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

Cite this