A Fluorescence-Based Assay for Characterization and Quantification of Lipid Droplet Formation in Human Intestinal Organoids

This article has been accepted and is currently in production


Dietary lipids are taken up as free fatty acids (FAs) by the intestinal epithelium. These FAs are intracellularly converted into triglyceride (TG) molecules, before they are packaged into chylomicrons for transport to the lymph or into cytosolic lipid droplets (LDs) for intracellular storage. A crucial step for the formation of LDs is the catalytic activity of diacylglycerol acyltransferases (DGAT) in the final step of TG synthesis. LDs are important to buffer toxic lipid species and regulate cellular metabolism in different cell types. Since the human intestinal epithelium is regularly confronted with high concentrations of lipids, LD formation is of great importance to regulate homeostasis. Here we describe a simple assay for the characterization and quantification of LD formation (LDF) upon stimulation with the most common unsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid, in human intestinal organoids. The LDF assay is based on the LD-specific fluorescent dye LD540, which allows for quantification of LDs by confocal microscopy, fluorescent plate reader, or flow cytometry. The LDF assay can be used to characterize LD formation in human intestinal epithelial cells, or to study human (genetic) disorders that affect LD metabolism, such as DGAT1 deficiency. Furthermore, this assay can also be used in a high-throughput pipeline to test novel therapeutic compounds, which restore defects in LD formation in intestinal or other types of organoids.