TNT-Triglyceride Metabolism in Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease

European Coordinator:
  • Rudolf ZECHNER, University of Graz (Austria)
North American Coordinator:
  • Stephen G. YOUNG, UCLA, Los Angeles (USA)
  • Monika OBERER, University of Graz (Austria)
  • Jörg HEEREN, University Hamburg-Eppendorf (Germany)
  • Sander KERSTEN, Wageningen University (Netherlands)
  • Michael PLOUG, BRIC, Copenhagen (Denmark)
  • Loren G. FONG, Anne P. BEIGNEUX, Karen REUE, Laurent VERGNES, UCLA, Los Angeles, (USA)
  • Jean SCHAFFER, Washington University, St Louis (USA)
  • Jay D.HORTON, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas (USA)

Although triglycerides have long been implicated in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease, comparatively little is known about their metabolism or role in disease. The Transatlantic Network on Triglycerides (TNT) aims to fill in our gaps in knowledge, concentrating on triglyceride metabolism as it relates to obesity and heart disease. Triglycerides, three molecules of fatty acid bonded to a molecule of the alcohol glycerol, are synthesized during the process of digestion, and are stored in the body’s adipose (fat) tissues. High levels of triglycerides in the blood are associated with insulin resistance.

In cells, defects in the proteins governing the breakdown of triglycerides lead to massive accumulation in the heart. The resulting injury, as occurs in patients with diabetes mellitus, can lead to congestive heart failure. In the liver, an excess of triglycerides can lead to cirrhosis. The mechanism of injury is unknown. Each TNT investigator has made novel and highly significant discovery in the understanding of triglyceride metabolism. Because no single group has the perspective or tools to investigate the cross- regulation of intracellular and intravascular triglyceride metabolism, the network approach can provide a significant boost to research efforts in the field. Network members plan to concentrate on the use of novel mouse models to understand triglyceride storage and overload, in order to develop therapeutics for triglyceride related obesity and cardiovascular disease.