Persönlicher Status und Werkzeuge


The research group “Lipid Metabolism” focuses on investigations of fatty acid (FA) and phospholipid (PL) biosynthesis. Kinetics and dynamics of lipid synthesis and PL remodeling processes are of particular interest as well influencing factors including the gut microbiota and pathophysiological conditions.

The group is headed by the junior principal investigator Josef Ecker with expertise in mass spectrometry, molecular biology and lipid metabolism. The independent research group is primarily funded by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft).

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Research Gate

Mail to: josef.ecker[a]

Phone: +498161-71-2385


Current research interests are:

Fatty acid and membrane lipid synthesis

  • Nature provides an enormous diversity of lipid molecules. Fatty acids (FA) are the building blocks of various lipids, including cell membrane phospholipids (PL).
  • For numerous cellular processes, such as cell differentiation and organelle development (including Mitochondria, ER and Golgi), as well as for key cellular functions, FA and PL must be synthesized de novo.
  •  Aim: Investigation of lipid synthesis dynamics under multiple experimental conditions using stable isotope labelling with polar precursors in combination with mass spectrometric analyses.

Key publications:

FA synthesis, cell differentiation and organelle development

Cell type specific FA desaturation

Gut microbiota and host liver lipid synthesis

  • The mammalian gut harbours a huge microbial community designated as gut microbiota. It is clear that hepatic lipid synthesis and metabolism is influenced by gut microbiota.
  • A better understanding of the bilateral relationship of host lipid metabolism and microbiota is needed for filling the gaps in human systems physiology and for therapeutic strategies to combat related metabolic diseases.
  •  Objective: Understanding the regulation of hepatic lipid synthesis by gut microbiota including involved molecular mechanisms by applying multi-omics analyses and mechanistic investigations.

Related publication:

Application of stable isotopes to track lipid synthesis

Resorption of dietary lipids and the role of gut microbiota

  • Dietary lipids are absorbed from the intestinal lumen into enterocytes, where they are esterified to form triacylglycerols (TAG; mainly) and PL.
  •  For secretion into the circulation lipids are packed into chylomicrons (CM), which are hydrolysed into FA and CM remnants. CM remnants are transported to the liver, FA to extra-hepatic tissues.
  • Goal: Finding out if and how gut microbiota affect intestinal FA resorption by using stable isotope labelled FA in combination with mass spectrometry.

Related Publication:

Analysis and tracking of FA metabolism using stable isotopes and GC-MS

This project is part of the DFG Priority Program "Intestinal Microbiota - a Microbial Ecosystem at the Edge between Immune Homeostasis and Inflammation" (SPP 1656).

FA metabolism and phospholipid remodeling

  • Exogenous lipid uptake from nutrition can be a driving force for endogenous lipid synthesis and most notably lead to remodeling of PL acyl chains, which are FA.
  • Although PL are remodeled, their acyl chain patters are generally conserved within cells to maintain chemical, physical and functional properties of membranes.
  • Objective: Investigation of PL remodeling processes using tandem and high-resolution mass spectrometry.

Key publications:

Integration of dietary FA into membrane lipids

Metabolism of conjugated linoleic acid