The Swift laboratory has a longstanding interest in the assembly and secretion of very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) by the liver. VLDL transport triglyceride to peripheral tissues for storage and/or utilization and are the sole precursors of plasma low density lipoproteins (LDL), which have been positively correlated with risk for atherosclerotic heart disease. Their studies have focused on the mechanism by which microsomal triglyceride transfer protein (MTP), a lipid transfer protein, adds lipid to the forming lipoprotein within the endoplasmic reticulum and the Golgi complex.
The discovery by the laboratory that MTP is also present in adipose tissue and is associated with the surface of lipid droplets has led to exciting new studies to delineate the role of MTP within adipocytes. Using molecular, cellular, and in vivo approaches, the laboratory is studying how MTP interacts with lipid droplets and how it promotes lipid droplet maturation. The studies could prove important in understanding how fat is stored and in understanding the factors involved in obesity and its many complications, including atherosclerotic heart disease.