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Lipidomics for wildlife disease etiology and biomarker discovery: a case study of pansteatitis outbreak in South Africa



John Bowden, Jeremy P. Koelmel, Candice Z. Ulmer, Susan Fogelson, Hannes Botha, Christina M. Jones, Jackie T. Bangma, Theresa M. Cantu, Matthew P. Guillette, Wilmien Luus-Powell, Joseph Sara, Willem J. Smit, Korin Albert, Harmony Miller, Berkley Olsen, Jason A. Cochran, Timothy J. Garrett, Richard A. Yost


Lipidomics is a promising tool to determine biomarkers and elucidate mechanisms associated with anthropogenic-induced stress in wildlife. Therefore, we examine the application of lipidomics for in situ studies on Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) in Loskop Dam, South Africa. Mortality events of aquatic life associated with an environmentally-derived inflammatory disease, pansteatitis, have occurred in this area. The lipidome of adipose tissue (n = 31) and plasma (n = 51) from tilapia collected from at site were characterized using state of the art liquid chromatography coupled to high-resolution tandem mass spectrometry. Lipid profiles reflected pansteatitis severity and were significantly different between diseased and healthy individuals. Over 13 classes of lipids associated with inflammation, cell death, and/or oxidative damage were upregulated in pansteatitis-affected adipose tissue, including ether- lipids, short-chained triglyceride oxidation products, sphingolipids, and acylcarnitines. Ceramides showed a 1000-fold increase in the most affected adipose tissues, illustrating its potential as sensitive and novel indicators of disease severity. In plasma, triglycerides were found to be downregulated in pansteatitis-affected tilapia. As comprehensive coverage of the lipidome aids in the elucidation of possible disease mechanisms, application of lipidomics could be applied to the understanding of other environmentally-derived inflammatory conditions, such as those caused by obesogens.
Environmental Science & Technology


Bowden, J. , Koelmel, J. , Ulmer, C. , Fogelson, S. , Botha, H. , Jones, C. , Bangma, J. , Cantu, T. , Guillette, M. , Luus-Powell, W. , Sara, J. , Smit, W. , Albert, K. , Miller, H. , Olsen, B. , Cochran, J. , Garrett, T. and Yost, R. (2019), Lipidomics for wildlife disease etiology and biomarker discovery: a case study of pansteatitis outbreak in South Africa, Environmental Science & Technology, [online], (Accessed May 26, 2024)


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Created March 5, 2019, Updated April 14, 2020