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Lipids And Fatty Acids Notes

Pharmacology Notes > BIOL10212 Biochemistry Notes

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Biochemistry - Lecture 8 (22/02/2018)

Lipids and Fatty Acids

Lipids provide energy reserves, predominantly in the form of triacylglycerols.
Both lipids and lipid derivatives serve as vitamins and hormones.
Lipids also serve as a structural component of biological membranes (phospholipids).
Lipophilic bile acids aid in the solubilization of lipids.
All lipids are insoluble in aqueous solutions.

The 4 main Lipid Families:

 Triacylglycerols - These contain a glycerol backbone, with 3 fatty acid (acyl)

 Glycerophopholipids- These contain a glycerol backbone and phosphate moieties, with a polar head group (can include glycolipids).

 Sphingolipids - These are built on a sphingosine backbone unit (can include glycolipids).

 Isoprenoids - Can include steroids, lipid vitamins and hormones.
 Triacylglycerols are hydrophobic.
 Glycerophospholipids and Sphingolipids are Amphipathic.
 Triacylglycerols, Glycerophospholipids and Sphingolipids have fatty acid chains as a

Isoprenoids are largely hydrophobic, with variable polar group content.

Fatty Acids
Fatty acids differ from one another in:
 Length of the hydrocarbon tails.
 Degree of unsaturation (double bonds).
 Position of the double bonds in the chain.

Most fatty acids have 12 to 22 Carbons.

IUPAC nomenclature: The Carboxyl carbon is C-1.

Commonly used nomenclature: α, β, γ, δ, ε after C-1.

The Carbon farthest from the carboxyl C is labelled ω. 

Cis double bonds introduce kinks which cause less intermolecular Van der Waals interactions and for the molecule to become more fluid, with a lower melting point.


Fatty acids are an important fuel source and are stored as neutral lipids called Triacylglycerols (TAGs).

Triacylglycerols are composed of 3 fatty acyl residues esterified to a
Glycerol (3-carbon sugar alcohol).

TAGs are very hydrophobic, and are stored in cells in an anhydrous form (e.g. in fat droplets).

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