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Sciadonic acid (20:3 Delta-5,11,14) and juniperonic acid (20:4 Delta-5,11,14,17) are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that lack the Delta-8 double bond of arachidonic acid (20:4 Delta-5,8,11,14) and eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5 Delta-5,8,11,14,17), respectively. Here, we demonstrate that these conifer oil-derived PUFAs are metabolized to essential fatty acids in animal cells. When Swiss 3T3 cells were cultured with sciadonic acid, linoleic acid (18:2 Delta-9,12) accumulated in the cells to an extent dependent on the concentration of sciadonic acid. At the same time, a small amount of 16:2 Delta-7,10 appeared in the cellular lipids. Both 16:2 Delta-7,10 and linoleic acid accumulated in sciadonic acid-supplemented CHO cells, but not in peroxisome-deficient CHO cells. We confirmed that 16:2 Delta-7,10 was effectively elongated to linoleic acid in rat liver microsomes. These results indicate that sciadonic acid was partially degraded to 16:2 Delta-7,10 by two cycles of beta-oxidation in peroxisomes, then elongated to linoleic acid in microsomes. Supplementation of Swiss 3T3 cells with juniperonic acid, an n-3 analogue of sciadonic acid, induced accumulation of alpha-linolenic acid (18:3 Delta-9,12,15) in cellular lipids, suggesting that juniperonic acid was metabolized in a similar manner to sciadonic acid. This PUFA remodeling is thought to be a process that converts unsuitable fatty acids into essential fatty acids required by animals.


Tamotsu Tanaka, Jun-ichi Morishige, Dai Iwawaki, Terumi Fukuhara, Naomi Hamamura, Kaoru Hirano, Takashi Osumi, Kiyoshi Satouchi. Metabolic pathway that produces essential fatty acids from polymethylene-interrupted polyunsaturated fatty acids in animal cells. The FEBS journal. 2007 Jun;274(11):2728-37

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PMID: 17451430

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