Sathish Kumar Natarajan, PhD NPOD Investigator

Assistant Professor - FORMER PROJECT LEADER 2017-2020

Nutrition and Health Sciences
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
FYH 229
Lincoln NE 68583-0806

Phone: 402.472.7227  |  Email:

External Website:

Dr. Natarajan's lab is focused on understanding the molecular mechanism of 3-hydroxy fatty acid-induced lipotoxicity to the placenta and liver during acute fatty liver of pregnancy (AFLP), a catastrophic maternal liver disease. AFLP is an obstetric and medical emergency that develops in the last trimester of pregnancy. Fetuses with a mutation in the mitochondrial long-chain hydroxy acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (LCHAD) is highly associated with the mother developing AFLP. Placenta (an organ that helps the fetus growth) with the LCHAD mutation results in the accumulation of toxic lipid intermediates, like 3‑hydroxy fatty acids. These accumulated toxic lipid metabolites from the placenta enter into maternal circulation and damages maternal liver resulting in maternal liver injury observed in patients with AFLP.

Dr. Natarajan's lab works in identifying a novel therapeutic nutrient molecule that could mitigate placenta and liver injury in patients with AFLP. We have identified that palmitoleate, a mono-unsaturated omega-7 fatty acid protects against placental trophoblast and hepatocyte lipoapoptosis and can be used as a potential therapeutic nutrient molecule to treat patients with AFLP. The information obtained from the mechanism of liver injury from our studies will help in advancing and broadening the general knowledge of the liver injury and steatosis in fatty liver disease. Further, the protective role of palmitoleate will also be useful in treating patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).