De novo lipogenesis

Last update: 6 February 2021

De novo lipogenesis is the endogenous synthesis of new fatty acids from other substrates (primarily carbohydrates). Polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential, meaning animals (including humans) cannot make them, so any they consume must come from the diet. This permits using polyunsaturated fat as a marker of endogenous synthesis, by analyzing hepatic outputs (short term) and adipose tissue (long term).

Here, I’ve taken data from three studies and graphed the relationship between dietary intake of fat and carbohydrate, and fractional de novo lipogenesis (how much fat comes from endogenous sources). If you know of any other studies like this, please let me know – you can find my contact details here.

Hudgins 199615.0%85.0%0.0%Model100.0%
Hudgins 199615.0%0.0%85.0%Model0.0%
Hudgins 199615.0%75.0%10.0%Experiment43.6%
Hudgins 199615.0%45.0%40.0%Experiment0.0%
Schwarz 2003LNI14.0%46.0%40.0%Experiment1.6%
Schwarz 2003ONI15.0%45.0%41.0%Experiment2.3%
Schwarz 2003OHI14.0%47.0%39.0%Experiment8.5%
Schwarz 2003LNI16.0%67.0%17.0%Experiment13.0%
Schwarz 2003OHI15.0%69.0%16.0%Experiment12.8%
Scott 1964KM11.0%82.0%7.0%Observation57.5%*
Scott 1964KF12.0%82.0%6.0%Observation65.7%*
Scott 1964KCD16.0%67.0%17.0%Observation25.0%*
Legend: LNI – lean normoinsulinemic, ONI – obese normoinsulinemic, OHI – obese hyperinsulinemic, KM – Korean monks, KF – Korean farmers, KCD – Korean city-dwellers. * – calculated from difference in PUFA between diet and adipose tissue.


  1. Hudgins LC, Hellerstein M, Seidman C, Neese R, Diakun J, Hirsch J. Human fatty acid synthesis is stimulated by a eucaloric low fat, high carbohydrate diet. J Clin Invest. 1996;97(9):2081-2091. doi:10.1172/JCI118645
  2. Schwarz JM, Linfoot P, Dare D, Aghajanian K. Hepatic de novo lipogenesis in normoinsulinemic and hyperinsulinemic subjects consuming high-fat, low-carbohydrate and low-fat, high-carbohydrate isoenergetic diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Jan;77(1):43-50. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/77.1.43. PMID: 12499321.
  3. R. F. SCOTT, M.D., K. T. LEE, M.D., PH.D., D. N. KIM, M.D., E. S. MORRISON, PH.D., F. GOODALE, M.D., Fatty Acids of Serum and Adipose Tissue in Six Groups Eating Natural Diets Containing 7 to 40 Per Cent Fat, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 14, Issue 5, May 1964, Pages 280–290,