MadSci Network: Biochemistry

Re: What does the body use the fatty acid ALA for, besides making EPA & DHA?

Date: Mon Apr 18 17:15:29 2011
Posted By: Karl A. Wilson, Faculty (Professor), Biological Sciences, S.U.N.Y. at Binghamton (Binghamton University)
Area of science: Biochemistry
ID: 1302219358.Bc

Alpha-lenolenic acid (ALA) is a structural component of the cell membrane in phospholipids (such as phosphatidylcholine). The action of phospholipase can liberate some of this omega-3 fatty acid. This in turn is converted to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which have been implicated in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. As you noted, the overall conversion of free ALA to EPA and DHA is relatively low. In fact, much of the ALA ingested (up to 30% in human males, somewhat lower in females) is converted to energy through the normal beta-oxidation pathway for fatty acids.

Since I am actually a plant scientist, I would be remiss if I failed to note that in plants ALA plays another role. ALA is converted to jamonic acid and methyl-jasmonate. Methyl-jasmonate serves as a signaling molecule in defense and many developmental processes in the plant.

Current Queue | Current Queue for Biochemistry | Biochemistry archives

Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Biochemistry.

MadSci Home | Information | Search | Random Knowledge Generator | MadSci Archives | Mad Library | MAD Labs | MAD FAQs | Ask a ? | Join Us! | Help Support MadSci

MadSci Network,
© 1995-2006. All rights reserved.