De novo lipogenesis (DNL) is disrupted in a wide range of human disease. Thus, quantification of DNL may provide insight into mechanisms and guide interventions if it can be performed rapidly and noninvasively. DNL flux is commonly measured by 2H incorporation into fatty acids following deuterated water (2H2O) administration. However, the sensitivity of this approach is limited by the natural abundance of 13C, which masks detection of 2H by mass spectrometry. Here we report that high-resolution Orbitrap gas-chromatography mass-spectrometry resolves 2H and 13C fatty acid mass isotopomers, allowing DNL to be quantified using lower 2H2O doses and shorter experimental periods than previously possible. Serial measurements over 24-hrs in mice detects the nocturnal activation of DNL and matches a 3H-water method in mice with genetic activation of DNL. Most importantly, DNL is detected in overnight-fasted humans in less than an hour and is responsive to feeding during a 4-h study. Thus, 2H specific MS provides the ability to study DNL in settings that are currently impractical.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3756
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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