Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Glycerol


The considerable increase in biodiesel production worldwide in the last 5 years resulted in a stoichiometric increased coproduction of crude glycerol. As an excess of crude glycerol has been produced, its value on market was reduced and it is becoming a “waste-stream” instead of a valuable “coproduct”. The development of biorefineries, i.e. production of chemicals and power integrated with conversion processes of biomass into biofuels, has been singled out as a way to achieve economically viable production chains, valorize residues and coproducts, and reduce industrial waste disposal. In this sense, several alternatives aimed at the use of crude glycerol to produce fuels and chemicals by microbial fermentation have been evaluated. This review summarizes different strategies employed to produce biofuels and chemicals (1,3-propanediol, 2,3-butanediol, ethanol, n-butanol, organic acids, polyols and others) by microbial fermentation of glycerol. Initially, the industrial use of each chemical is briefly presented; then we systematically summarize and discuss the different strategies to produce each chemical, including selection and genetic engineering of producers, and optimization of process conditions to improve yield and productivity. Finally, the impact of the developments obtained until now are placed in perspective and opportunities and challenges for using crude glycerol to the development of biodiesel-based biorefineries are considered. In conclusion, the microbial fermentation of glycerol represents a remarkable alternative to add value to the biodiesel production chain helping the development of biorefineries, which will allow this biofuel to be more competitive.

Concepts: Carbon dioxide, Ethanol, Petroleum, Anaerobic digestion, Biofuel, Glycerol, Biomass, Biodiesel


Among primates, human neonates have the largest brains but also the highest proportion of body fat. If placental nutrient supply is limited, the fetus faces a dilemma: should resources be allocated to brain growth, or to fat deposition for use as a potential postnatal energy reserve? We hypothesised that resolving this dilemma operates at the level of umbilical blood distribution entering the fetal liver. In 381 uncomplicated pregnancies in third trimester, we measured blood flow perfusing the fetal liver, or bypassing it via the ductus venosus to supply the brain and heart using ultrasound techniques. Across the range of fetal growth and independent of the mother’s adiposity and parity, greater liver blood flow was associated with greater offspring fat mass measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, both in the infant at birth (r = 0.43, P<0.001) and at age 4 years (r = 0.16, P = 0.02). In contrast, smaller placentas less able to meet fetal demand for essential nutrients were associated with a brain-sparing flow pattern (r = 0.17, p = 0.02). This flow pattern was also associated with a higher degree of shunting through ductus venosus (P = 0.04). We propose that humans evolved a developmental strategy to prioritize nutrient allocation for prenatal fat deposition when the supply of conditionally essential nutrients requiring hepatic inter-conversion is limited, switching resource allocation to favour the brain if the supply of essential nutrients is limited. Facilitated placental transfer mechanisms for glucose and other nutrients evolved in environments less affluent than those now prevalent in developed populations, and we propose that in circumstances of maternal adiposity and nutrient excess these mechanisms now also lead to prenatal fat deposition. Prenatal developmental influences play important roles in the human propensity to deposit fat.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infant, Embryo, Fetus, Liver, Embryology, Glycerol


The objective of the study is a comparative evaluation of flavone isolated from Mucuna pruriens and coumarin isolated from Ionidium suffruticosum was assessed for the hypolipidemic activity in rats fed with high fat diet. The acute toxicity study was found that flavone (M.pruriens) and coumarin (I.suffruticosum) are safe up to 100mg/kg, so one tenth of this dose (10mg/kg) was consider as a evaluation dose. High fat diet group of rats showed significant (p<0.001) elevation in plasma total and LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides and phospholipids. Administration of flavone (M. pruriens) and coumarin isolated from (I.suffruticosum) at the dose of 10mg/kg b.wt/day along with high fat diet significantly (p<0.001) prevented the rise in the plasma total and LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides and phospholipids than that of other extracts. However, treatment of coumarin isolated from (I.suffruticosum) had showed more cardio protective effect against hyperlipidemia than that of flavone (M.pruriens).

Concepts: Cholesterol, Fatty acid, Statin, Toxicology, Acute accent, Glycerol, Acute toxicity, Mucuna pruriens


Vitrification of endothelial cells (MHECT-5) has not previously been compared with controlled slow freezing methods under standardized conditions. To identify the best cryopreservation technique, we evaluated vitrification and standardized controlled-rate -1°C/minute cell freezing in a -80°C freezer and tested four cryoprotective agents (CPA), namely dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), ethylene glycol (EG), propylene glycol (PG), and glycerol (GLY), and two media, namely Dulbecco’s modified Eagle medium Ham’s F-12 (DMEM)and K+-modified TiProtec (K+TiP), which is a high-potassium-containing medium. Numbers of viable cells in proliferation were evaluated by the CellTiter 96® AQueous One Solution Cell Proliferation Assay (Promega Corporation, Mannheim, Germany). To detect the exact frozen cell number per cryo vial, DNA content was measured by using Hoechst 33258 dye prior to analysis. Thus, results could be evaluated unconstrained by absolute cell number. Thawed cells were cultured in 25 cm2 cell culture flasks to confluence and examined daily by phase contrast imaging. With regard to cell recovery immediately after thawing, DMSO was the most suitable CPA combined with K+TiP in vitrification (99 ±0.5%) and with DMEM in slow freezing (92 ±1.6%). The most viable cells in proliferation after three days of culture were obtained in cells vitrificated by using GLY with K+TiP (308 ±34%) and PG with DMEM in slow freezing (280 ±27%).

Concepts: Ethylene glycol, Ethylene, Diol, Propylene glycol, Dimethyl sulfoxide, Glycerol, Cryobiology, Cryoprotectant


Lipid droplet (LD), a multi-functional organelle, is often found to associate with other cellular membranous structures and vary in size in a given cell, which may be related to their functional diversity. Here we established a method to separate LD subpopulations from isolated CHO K2 LDs into three different size categories. The subpopulation with smallest LDs was nearly free of ER and other membranous structures while those with larger LDs contained intact ER. These distinct subpopulations of LDs differed in their protein composition and ability to recruit proteins. This method was also applicable to LDs obtained from other sources, such as Huh7 cells, mouse liver and brown adipose tissue, et al. We developed an in vitro assay requiring only isolated LDs, Coenzyme A, and ATP to drive lipid synthesis. The LD subpopulation nearly depleted of ER was able to incorporate fatty acids into triacylglycerol and phospholipids. Together, our data demonstrate that LDs in a given cell are heterogeneous in size and function, and suggest that LDs are one of cellular lipid synthetic organelles.

Concepts: Protein, Cell nucleus, Metabolism, Fatty acid, Fat, Lipid, Lipid bilayer, Glycerol


Triclocarban (TCC) is among the top 10 most commonly detected wastewater contaminants in both concentration and frequency. Its presence in water, as well as its propensity to bioaccumulate, has raised numerous questions about potential endocrine and developmental effects. Here, we investigated whether exposure to an environmentally relevant concentration of TCC could result in transfer from mother to offspring in CD-1 mice during gestation and lactation using accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). 14C-TCC (100 nM) was administered to dams through drinking water up to gestation day 18, or from birth to post-natal day 10. AMS was used to quantify 14C-concentrations in offspring and dams after exposure. We demonstrated that TCC does effectively transfer from mother to offspring, both trans-placentally and via lactation. TCC-related compounds were detected in the tissues of offspring with significantly higher concentrations in the brain, heart and fat. In addition to transfer from mother to offspring, exposed offspring were heavier in weight than unexposed controls demonstrating an 11% and 8.5% increase in body weight for females and males, respectively. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) was used to examine changes in gene expression in liver and adipose tissue in exposed offspring. qPCR suggested alterations in genes involved in lipid metabolism in exposed female offspring, which was consistent with the observed increased fat pad weights and hepatic triglycerides. This study represents the first report to quantify the transfer of an environmentally relevant concentration of TCC from mother to offspring in the mouse model and evaluate bio-distribution after exposure using AMS. Our findings suggest that early-life exposure to TCC may interfere with lipid metabolism and could have implications for human health.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Gene expression, Polymerase chain reaction, Female, Fat, Mouse, Glycerol


Use of electronic cigarettes has grown exponentially over the past few years, raising concerns about harmful emissions. This study quantified potentially toxic compounds in the vapor and identified key parameters affecting emissions. Six principal constituents in three different refill “e-liquids” were propylene glycol (PG), glycerin, nicotine, ethanol, acetol, and propylene oxide. The latter, with mass concentrations of 0.4-0.6%, is a possible carcinogen and respiratory irritant. Aerosols generated with vaporizers contained up to 31 compounds, including nicotine, nicotyrine, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, glycidol, acrolein, acetol, and diacetyl. Glycidol is a probable carcinogen not previously identified in the vapor, and acrolein is a powerful irritant. Emission rates ranged from tens to thousands of nanograms of toxicants per milligram of e-liquid vaporized, and they were significantly higher for a single-coil vs a double-coil vaporizer (by up to an order of magnitude for aldehydes). By increasing the voltage applied to a single-coil device from 3.3 to 4.8 V, the mass of e-liquid consumed doubled from 3.7 to 7.5 mg puff(-1) and the total aldehyde emission rates tripled from 53 to 165 μg puff(-1), with acrolein rates growing by a factor of 10. Aldehyde emissions increased by more than 60% after the device was reused several times, likely due to the buildup of polymerization byproducts that degraded upon heating. These findings suggest that thermal degradation byproducts are formed during vapor generation. Glycidol and acrolein were primarily produced by glycerin degradation. Acetol and 2-propen-1-ol were produced mostly from PG, while other compounds (e.g., formaldehyde) originated from both. Because emissions originate from reaction of the most common e-liquid constituents (solvents), harmful emissions are expected to be ubiquitous when e-cigarette vapor is present.

Concepts: Ethanol, Smoking, Tobacco, Cigarette, Nicotine, Electronic cigarette, Propylene glycol, Glycerol


The e-liquids used in electronic cigarettes (E-cigs) consist of propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), nicotine, and chemical additives for flavoring. There are currently over 7,700 e-liquid flavors available, and while some have been tested for toxicity in the laboratory, most have not. Here, we developed a 3-phase, 384-well, plate-based, high-throughput screening (HTS) assay to rapidly triage and validate the toxicity of multiple e-liquids. Our data demonstrated that the PG/VG vehicle adversely affected cell viability and that a large number of e-liquids were more toxic than PG/VG. We also performed gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis on all tested e-liquids. Subsequent nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) analysis revealed that e-liquids are an extremely heterogeneous group. Furthermore, these data indicated that (i) the more chemicals contained in an e-liquid, the more toxic it was likely to be and (ii) the presence of vanillin was associated with higher toxicity values. Further analysis of common constituents by electron ionization revealed that the concentration of cinnamaldehyde and vanillin, but not triacetin, correlated with toxicity. We have also developed a publicly available searchable website ( Given the large numbers of available e-liquids, this website will serve as a resource to facilitate dissemination of this information. Our data suggest that an HTS approach to evaluate the toxicity of multiple e-liquids is feasible. Such an approach may serve as a roadmap to enable bodies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to better regulate e-liquid composition.

Concepts: Mass spectrometry, Tobacco, Cigarette, Nicotine, Electronic cigarette, Propylene glycol, Glycerol, Multidimensional scaling


AgRP neurons control peripheral substrate utilization and nutrient partitioning during conditions of energy deficit and nutrient replenishment, although the molecular mechanism is unknown. We examined whether carnitine acetyltransferase (Crat) in AgRP neurons affects peripheral nutrient partitioning. Crat deletion in AgRP neurons reduced food intake and feeding behavior and increased glycerol supply to the liver during fasting, as a gluconeogenic substrate, which was mediated by changes to sympathetic output and peripheral fatty acid metabolism in the liver. Crat deletion in AgRP neurons increased peripheral fatty acid substrate utilization and attenuated the switch to glucose utilization after refeeding, indicating altered nutrient partitioning. Proteomic analysis in AgRP neurons shows that Crat regulates protein acetylation and metabolic processing. Collectively, our studies highlight that AgRP neurons require Crat to provide the metabolic flexibility to optimize nutrient partitioning and regulate peripheral substrate utilization, particularly during fasting and refeeding.

Concepts: Metabolism, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Triglyceride, Fat, Fatty acid metabolism, Glycerol, Fatty acid synthase


Rats artificially selected over several generations for high intrinsic endurance/aerobic capacity resulting in high capacity runners (HCR) has been developed to study the links between high aerobic fitness and protection from metabolic diseases (Wisloff et al., Science, 2005). We have previously shown that the HCR strain have elevated hepatic mitochondrial content and oxidative capacity. In this study, we tested if the elevated hepatic mitochondrial content in the HCR rat would provide “metabolic protection” from chronic ethanol-induced hepatic steatosis and injury. The Leiber-Decarli liquid diet with ethanol (7% v/v; HCR-E) and without (HCR-C) was given to HCR rats (n = 8 per group) from 14 to 20 weeks of age that were weight matched and pair-fed to assure isocaloric intake. Hepatic triglyceride (TG) content and macro- and microvesicular steatosis were significantly greater in HCR-E compared with HCR-C (p < 0.05). In addition, hepatic superoxide dismutase activity and glutathione levels were significantly (p < 0.05) reduced in the HCR-E rats. This hepatic phenotype also was associated with reduced total hepatic fatty acid oxidation (p = 0.03) and β-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase activity (p = 0.01), and reductions in microsomal triglyceride transfer protein and apoB-100 protein content (p = 0.01) in HCR-E animals. However, despite these documented hepatic alterations, ethanol ingestion failed to induce significant hepatic liver injury, including no changes in hepatic inflammation, or serum alanine amino transferase (ALTs), free fatty acids (FFAs), triglycerides (TGs), insulin, or glucose. High intrinsic aerobic fitness did not reduce ethanol-induced hepatic steatosis, but protected against ethanol-induced hepatic injury and systemic metabolic dysfunction in a high aerobic capacity rat model.

Concepts: Metabolism, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Triglyceride, Omega-3 fatty acid, Fatty acid metabolism, Lipid, Glycerol