Fatty alcohol metabolism in cultured human fibroblasts. Evidence for a fatty alcohol cycle

W. B. Rizzo, D. A. Craft, A. L. Dammann, M. W. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Intact cultured human fibroblasts reduced [1-14]palmitate to radioactive hexadecanol in a concentration-dependent manner. In the presence of 30 μM radioactive palmitate, cellular levels of labeled hexadecanol increases over time and reached a steady state corresponding to at least 0.1% of cell-associated radioactive palmitate. These levels of [14C]hexadeconal were increased up to 10-fold when exogenous nonradioactive hexadecanol was present, suggesting that radioactive hexadecanol was actively metabolized. Cells incubated in fatty acid-free medium with [1-14C]hexadecanol rapidly oxidized it to palmitic acid; less than 2% of the hexadecanol taken up by the cells was incorporated into the ether linkage of phosphatidylethanolamine, and no incorporation into wax esters was detected. Double-label experiments involving incubation of intact fibroblast with [3H]palmitate and [14C]hexadecanol demonstrated simultaneous synthesis of hexadecanol from palmitate and oxidation of hexadecanol to palmitate. Addition of exogenous palmitate to the medium of intact cells inhibited the oxidation of hexadecanol to fatty acid in a concentration-dependent fashion. This was associated with an increase in the fibroblast content of hexadecanol and loss of hexadecanol into the medium. Activity of fatty alcohol:NAD+ oxidoreductase, which catalyzes the oxidation of hexadecanol to palmitic acid, was inhibited by palmitoyl-CoA and NADH, but not by palmitic acid. These results are consistent with the presence of a 'fatty alcohol cycle' in which hexadecanol is synthesized from palmitate via acyl-CoA and simultaneously oxidized back to free fatty acid. Fatty acyl-CoA, which is the primary substrate for fatty alcohol synthesis, may also regulate the intracellular level of fatty alcohol by inhibiting its oxidation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17412-17419
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number36
StatePublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Fatty alcohol metabolism in cultured human fibroblasts. Evidence for a fatty alcohol cycle'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this