Lipolysis plays a crucial role in the regulation of energy balance. This catabolic process leads to the hydrolysis of triglycerides stored in the fat cell to glycerol and free fatty acids (FFAs). The released FFAs may be re-esterified by the adipocyte or transported in the bloodstream. However, elevated plasma FFA levels can be attributed, in part, to insulin resistance in obese patients with type 2 diabetes.

It is now known that lipolysis is not a simple metabolic pathway stimulated by catecholamines and inhibited by insulin. There have been new discoveries on the endocrine and paracrine regulation of lipolysis and on the molecular mechanisms of triglyceride hydrolysis. The proteins involved in the lipolytic process constitute drug targets for the treatment of obesity and diabetes.

One approach is to target molecules stimulating lipolysis and the oxidation of the released fatty acids to decrease fat stores. A second approach is a chronic inhibition of lipolysis to diminish plasma fatty acid levels, thereby reversing insulin resistance.

At RenaSci, we have established and validated an assay that measures lipolysis directly using isolated adipose tissue explants. Both stimulatory and inhibitory effects of drugs on lipolysis can be detected.

Adipose tissue can be taken from normal, high fat fed or dietary-induced obese (DIO) mice and rats or genetic models of obesity and diabetes eg ob/ob mice or Zucker rats. Adipose tissue is normally taken from epididymal or retroperitoneal fat pads.

The lipolysis assay can be used to measure acute effects of drugs on basal and isoproterenol-stimulated lipolysis in vitro or basal and isoproterenol-stimulated lipolysis ex vivo in tissues from animals following acute or chronic drug treatment.

In a typical experiment, adipose tissue explants are incubated for 3 h in the appropriate treatment. Glycerol released into the culture media is measured as an indicator of lipolysis. Other markers secreted from the adipose tissue into the media can also be measured (eg NEFA).

Isoproterenol-Stimulated Lipolysis in Mice

Inhibition of Isoproterenol-Stimulated Lipolysis in Mice on High Fed Diet

Isoproterenol-Stimulated Lipolysis in Adipose Tissue Explants from Lean Rats

Insulin Inhibition of Isoproterenol-Stimulated Lipolysis in Lean Rats

Isoproterenol-Stimulated Lipolysis High Fat Fed Rats

Insulin-Inhibition of Isoproterenol-Stimulated Lipolysis High Fat Fed Rats


All lipolysis studies are customised to meet the specific requirements of each client and include advice on experimental design, statistical analysis by a qualified statistician, fully audited data pack and written reports to regulatory standards if required.

Please contact us for further information on our lipolysis services.



Vickers et al. 2008. Effect of rimonabant on body weight, glucose tolerance, body composition and lipolysis in fa/fa Zucker rats: A comparison with pair-fed controls. Program No. 584.18. Society for Neuroscience Meeting, Washington, DC, 15th-19th November 2008.