Lipid

In biology and biochemistry, a lipid is a biomolecule that is soluble in nonpolar solvents.[3] Non-polar solvents are typically hydrocarbons used to dissolve other naturally occurring hydrocarbon lipid molecules that do not (or do not easily) dissolve in water, including fatty acids, waxes, sterols, fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins A, D, E, and K), monoglycerides, diglycerides, triglycerides, and phospholipids.

The functions of lipids include storing energy, signaling, and acting as structural components of cell membranes.[4][5] Lipids have applications in the cosmetic and food industries as well as in nanotechnology.[6]

Scientists sometimes broadly define lipids as hydrophobic or amphiphilic small molecules; the amphiphilic nature of some lipids allows them to form structures such as vesicles, multilamellar/unilamellar liposomes, or membranes in an aqueous environment. Biological lipids originate entirely or in part from two distinct types of biochemical subunits or "building-blocks": ketoacyl and isoprene groups.[4] Using this approach, lipids may be divided into eight categories: fatty acids, glycerolipids, glycerophospholipids, sphingolipids, saccharolipids, and polyketides (derived from condensation of ketoacyl subunits); and sterol lipids and prenol lipids (derived from condensation of isoprene subunits).[4]

Although the term "lipid" is sometimes used as a synonym for fats, fats are a subgroup of lipids called triglycerides. Lipids also encompass molecules such as fatty acids and their derivatives (including tri-, di-, monoglycerides, and phospholipids), as well as other sterol-containing metabolites such as cholesterol.[7] Although humans and other mammals use various biosynthetic pathways both to break down and to synthesize lipids, some essential lipids can't be made this way and must be obtained from the diet.

Common lipids lmaps
Structures of some common lipids. At the top are cholesterol[1] and oleic acid.[2] The middle structure is a triglyceride composed of oleoyl, stearoyl, and palmitoyl chains attached to a glycerol backbone. At the bottom is the common phospholipid phosphatidylcholine.

History

In 1815, Henry Braconnot classified lipids (graisses) in two categories, suifs (solid greases or tallow) and huiles (fluid oils).[8] In 1823, Michel Eugène Chevreul developed a more detailed classification, including oils, greases, tallow, waxes, resins, balsams and volatile oils (or essential oils).[9][10][11]

In 1827, William Prout recognized fat ("oily" alimentary matters), along with protein ("albuminous") and carbohydrate ("saccharine"), as an important nutrient for humans and animals.[12][13]

For a century, chemists regarded "fats" as only simple lipids made of fatty acids and glycerol (glycerides), but new forms were described later. Theodore Gobley (1847) discovered phospholipids in mammalian brain and hen egg, called by him as "lecithins". Thudichum discovered in human brain some phospholipids (cephalin), glycolipids (cerebroside) and sphingolipids (sphingomyelin).[10]

The terms lipoid, lipin, lipide and lipid have been used with varied meanings from author to author.[14] In 1912, Rosenbloom and Gies proposed the substitution of "lipoid" by "lipin".[15] In 1920, Bloor introduced a new classification for "lipoids": simple lipoids (greases and waxes), compound lipoids (phospholipoids and glycolipoids), and the derived lipoids (fatty acids, alcohols, sterols).[16][17]

The word "lipid", which stems etymologically from the Greek lipos (fat), was introduced in 1923 by Gabriel Bertrand.[18] Bertrands included in the concept not only the traditional fats (glycerides), but also the "lipoids", with a complex constitution.[10]

In 1947, T. P. Hilditch divided lipids into "simple lipids", with greases and waxes (true waxes, sterols, alcohols), and "complex lipids", with phospholipids and glycolipids.[10]

Categories of Lipids

Fatty acids

Prostacyclin-2D-skeletal
I2 - Prostacyclin (an example of a prostaglandin, an eicosanoid fatty acid)
Leukotriene B4
LTB4 (an example of a leukotriene, an eicosanoid fatty acid)

Fatty acids, or fatty acid residues when they are part of a lipid, are a diverse group of molecules synthesized by chain-elongation of an acetyl-CoA primer with malonyl-CoA or methylmalonyl-CoA groups in a process called fatty acid synthesis.[19][20] They are made of a hydrocarbon chain that terminates with a carboxylic acid group; this arrangement confers the molecule with a polar, hydrophilic end, and a nonpolar, hydrophobic end that is insoluble in water. The fatty acid structure is one of the most fundamental categories of biological lipids, and is commonly used as a building-block of more structurally complex lipids. The carbon chain, typically between four and 24 carbons long,[21] may be saturated or unsaturated, and may be attached to functional groups containing oxygen, halogens, nitrogen, and sulfur. If a fatty acid contains a double bond, there is the possibility of either a cis or trans geometric isomerism, which significantly affects the molecule's configuration. Cis-double bonds cause the fatty acid chain to bend, an effect that is compounded with more double bonds in the chain. Three double bonds in 18-carbon linolenic acid, the most abundant fatty-acyl chains of plant thylakoid membranes, render these membranes highly fluid despite environmental low-temperatures,[22] and also makes linolenic acid give dominating sharp peaks in high resolution 13-C NMR spectra of chloroplasts. This in turn plays an important role in the structure and function of cell membranes.[23] Most naturally occurring fatty acids are of the cis configuration, although the trans form does exist in some natural and partially hydrogenated fats and oils.[24]

Examples of biologically important fatty acids include the eicosanoids, derived primarily from arachidonic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid, that include prostaglandins, leukotrienes, and thromboxanes. Docosahexaenoic acid is also important in biological systems, particularly with respect to sight.[25][26] Other major lipid classes in the fatty acid category are the fatty esters and fatty amides. Fatty esters include important biochemical intermediates such as wax esters, fatty acid thioester coenzyme A derivatives, fatty acid thioester ACP derivatives and fatty acid carnitines. The fatty amides include N-acyl ethanolamines, such as the cannabinoid neurotransmitter anandamide.[27]

Glycerolipids

Fat triglyceride shorthand formula
Example of an unsaturated fat triglyceride (C55H98O6). Left part: glycerol; right part, from top to bottom: palmitic acid, oleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid.

Glycerolipids are composed of mono-, di-, and tri-substituted glycerols,[28] the best-known being the fatty acid triesters of glycerol, called triglycerides. The word "triacylglycerol" is sometimes used synonymously with "triglyceride". In these compounds, the three hydroxyl groups of glycerol are each esterified, typically by different fatty acids. Because they function as an energy store, these lipids comprise the bulk of storage fat in animal tissues. The hydrolysis of the ester bonds of triglycerides and the release of glycerol and fatty acids from adipose tissue are the initial steps in metabolizing fat.[29]

Additional subclasses of glycerolipids are represented by glycosylglycerols, which are characterized by the presence of one or more sugar residues attached to glycerol via a glycosidic linkage. Examples of structures in this category are the digalactosyldiacylglycerols found in plant membranes[30] and seminolipid from mammalian sperm cells.[31]

Glycerophospholipids

Glycerophospholipids, usually referred to as phospholipids (though sphingomyelins are also classified as phospholipids), are ubiquitous in nature and are key components of the lipid bilayer of cells,[32] as well as being involved in metabolism and cell signaling.[33] Neural tissue (including the brain) contains relatively high amounts of glycerophospholipids, and alterations in their composition has been implicated in various neurological disorders.[34] Glycerophospholipids may be subdivided into distinct classes, based on the nature of the polar headgroup at the sn-3 position of the glycerol backbone in eukaryotes and eubacteria, or the sn-1 position in the case of archaebacteria.[35]

Examples of glycerophospholipids found in biological membranes are phosphatidylcholine (also known as PC, GPCho or lecithin), phosphatidylethanolamine (PE or GPEtn) and phosphatidylserine (PS or GPSer). In addition to serving as a primary component of cellular membranes and binding sites for intra- and intercellular proteins, some glycerophospholipids in eukaryotic cells, such as phosphatidylinositols and phosphatidic acids are either precursors of or, themselves, membrane-derived second messengers.[36] Typically, one or both of these hydroxyl groups are acylated with long-chain fatty acids, but there are also alkyl-linked and 1Z-alkenyl-linked (plasmalogen) glycerophospholipids, as well as dialkylether variants in archaebacteria.[37]

Sphingolipids

Sphingolipids are a complicated family of compounds[38] that share a common structural feature, a sphingoid base backbone that is synthesized de novo from the amino acid serine and a long-chain fatty acyl CoA, then converted into ceramides, phosphosphingolipids, glycosphingolipids and other compounds. The major sphingoid base of mammals is commonly referred to as sphingosine. Ceramides (N-acyl-sphingoid bases) are a major subclass of sphingoid base derivatives with an amide-linked fatty acid. The fatty acids are typically saturated or mono-unsaturated with chain lengths from 16 to 26 carbon atoms.[39]

The major phosphosphingolipids of mammals are sphingomyelins (ceramide phosphocholines),[40] whereas insects contain mainly ceramide phosphoethanolamines[41] and fungi have phytoceramide phosphoinositols and mannose-containing headgroups.[42] The glycosphingolipids are a diverse family of molecules composed of one or more sugar residues linked via a glycosidic bond to the sphingoid base. Examples of these are the simple and complex glycosphingolipids such as cerebrosides and gangliosides.

Sterol lipids

Sterol lipids, such as cholesterol and its derivatives, are an important component of membrane lipids,[43] along with the glycerophospholipids and sphingomyelins. The steroids, all derived from the same fused four-ring core structure, have different biological roles as hormones and signaling molecules. The eighteen-carbon (C18) steroids include the estrogen family whereas the C19 steroids comprise the androgens such as testosterone and androsterone. The C21 subclass includes the progestogens as well as the glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids.[44] The secosteroids, comprising various forms of vitamin D, are characterized by cleavage of the B ring of the core structure.[45] Other examples of sterols are the bile acids and their conjugates,[46] which in mammals are oxidized derivatives of cholesterol and are synthesized in the liver. The plant equivalents are the phytosterols, such as β-sitosterol, stigmasterol, and brassicasterol; the latter compound is also used as a biomarker for algal growth.[47] The predominant sterol in fungal cell membranes is ergosterol.[48]

Prenol lipids

Prenol lipid 2e geraniol.jpeg
Prenol lipid (2E-geraniol)

Prenol lipids are synthesized from the five-carbon-unit precursors isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl diphosphate that are produced mainly via the mevalonic acid (MVA) pathway.[49] The simple isoprenoids (linear alcohols, diphosphates, etc.) are formed by the successive addition of C5 units, and are classified according to number of these terpene units. Structures containing greater than 40 carbons are known as polyterpenes. Carotenoids are important simple isoprenoids that function as antioxidants and as precursors of vitamin A.[50] Another biologically important class of molecules is exemplified by the quinones and hydroquinones, which contain an isoprenoid tail attached to a quinonoid core of non-isoprenoid origin.[51] Vitamin E and vitamin K, as well as the ubiquinones, are examples of this class. Prokaryotes synthesize polyprenols (called bactoprenols) in which the terminal isoprenoid unit attached to oxygen remains unsaturated, whereas in animal polyprenols (dolichols) the terminal isoprenoid is reduced.[52]

Saccharolipids

Kdo2-lipidA
Structure of the saccharolipid Kdo2-lipid A.[53] Glucosamine residues in blue, Kdo residues in red, acyl chains in red and phosphate groups in green.

Saccharolipids describe compounds in which fatty acids are linked directly to a sugar backbone, forming structures that are compatible with membrane bilayers. In the saccharolipids, a monosaccharide substitutes for the glycerol backbone present in glycerolipids and glycerophospholipids. The most familiar saccharolipids are the acylated glucosamine precursors of the Lipid A component of the lipopolysaccharides in Gram-negative bacteria. Typical lipid A molecules are disaccharides of glucosamine, which are derivatized with as many as seven fatty-acyl chains. The minimal lipopolysaccharide required for growth in E. coli is Kdo2-Lipid A, a hexa-acylated disaccharide of glucosamine that is glycosylated with two 3-deoxy-D-manno-octulosonic acid (Kdo) residues.[53]

Polyketides

Polyketides are synthesized by polymerization of acetyl and propionyl subunits by classic enzymes as well as iterative and multimodular enzymes that share mechanistic features with the fatty acid synthases. They comprise a large number of secondary metabolites and natural products from animal, plant, bacterial, fungal and marine sources, and have great structural diversity.[54][55] Many polyketides are cyclic molecules whose backbones are often further modified by glycosylation, methylation, hydroxylation, oxidation, or other processes. Many commonly used anti-microbial, anti-parasitic, and anti-cancer agents are polyketides or polyketide derivatives, such as erythromycins, tetracyclines, avermectins, and antitumor epothilones.[56]

Biological functions

Membranes

Eukaryotic cells feature the compartmentalized membrane-bound organelles that carry out different biological functions. The glycerophospholipids are the main structural component of biological membranes, as the cellular plasma membrane and the intracellular membranes of organelles; in animal cells, the plasma membrane physically separates the intracellular components from the extracellular environment. The glycerophospholipids are amphipathic molecules (containing both hydrophobic and hydrophilic regions) that contain a glycerol core linked to two fatty acid-derived "tails" by ester linkages and to one "head" group by a phosphate ester linkage. While glycerophospholipids are the major component of biological membranes, other non-glyceride lipid components such as sphingomyelin and sterols (mainly cholesterol in animal cell membranes) are also found in biological membranes.[57] In plants and algae, the galactosyldiacylglycerols,[58] and sulfoquinovosyldiacylglycerol,[30] which lack a phosphate group, are important components of membranes of chloroplasts and related organelles and are the most abundant lipids in photosynthetic tissues, including those of higher plants, algae and certain bacteria.

Plant thylakoid membranes have the largest lipid component of a non-bilayer forming monogalactosyl diglyceride (MGDG), and little phospholipids; despite this unique lipid composition, chloroplast thylakoid membranes have been shown to contain a dynamic lipid-bilayer matrix as revealed by magnetic resonance and electron microscope studies.[59]

Phospholipids aqueous solution structures
Self-organization of phospholipids: a spherical liposome, a micelle, and a lipid bilayer.

A biological membrane is a form of lamellar phase lipid bilayer. The formation of lipid bilayers is an energetically preferred process when the glycerophospholipids described above are in an aqueous environment.[60] This is known as the hydrophobic effect. In an aqueous system, the polar heads of lipids align towards the polar, aqueous environment, while the hydrophobic tails minimize their contact with water and tend to cluster together, forming a vesicle; depending on the concentration of the lipid, this biophysical interaction may result in the formation of micelles, liposomes, or lipid bilayers. Other aggregations are also observed and form part of the polymorphism of amphiphile (lipid) behavior. Phase behavior is an area of study within biophysics and is the subject of current academic research.[61][62] Micelles and bilayers form in the polar medium by a process known as the hydrophobic effect.[63] When dissolving a lipophilic or amphiphilic substance in a polar environment, the polar molecules (i.e., water in an aqueous solution) become more ordered around the dissolved lipophilic substance, since the polar molecules cannot form hydrogen bonds to the lipophilic areas of the amphiphile. So in an aqueous environment, the water molecules form an ordered "clathrate" cage around the dissolved lipophilic molecule.[64]

The formation of lipids into protocell membranes represents a key step in models of abiogenesis, the origin of life.[65]

Energy storage

Triglycerides, stored in adipose tissue, are a major form of energy storage both in animals and plants. They are a major source of energy because carbohydrates are fully reduced structures. In comparison to glycogen which would contribute only half of the energy per its pure mass, triglyceride carbons are all bonded to hydrogens, unlike in carbohydrates.[66] The adipocyte, or fat cell, is designed for continuous synthesis and breakdown of triglycerides in animals, with breakdown controlled mainly by the activation of hormone-sensitive enzyme lipase.[67] The complete oxidation of fatty acids provides high caloric content, about 38 kJ/g (9 kcal/g), compared with 17 kJ/g (4 kcal/g) for the breakdown of carbohydrates and proteins. Migratory birds that must fly long distances without eating use stored energy of triglycerides to fuel their flights.[68]

Signaling

In recent years, evidence has emerged showing that lipid signaling is a vital part of the cell signaling.[69][70][71][72] Lipid signaling may occur via activation of G protein-coupled or nuclear receptors, and members of several different lipid categories have been identified as signaling molecules and cellular messengers.[73] These include sphingosine-1-phosphate, a sphingolipid derived from ceramide that is a potent messenger molecule involved in regulating calcium mobilization,[74] cell growth, and apoptosis;[75] diacylglycerol (DAG) and the phosphatidylinositol phosphates (PIPs), involved in calcium-mediated activation of protein kinase C;[76] the prostaglandins, which are one type of fatty-acid derived eicosanoid involved in inflammation and immunity;[77] the steroid hormones such as estrogen, testosterone and cortisol, which modulate a host of functions such as reproduction, metabolism and blood pressure; and the oxysterols such as 25-hydroxy-cholesterol that are liver X receptor agonists.[78] Phosphatidylserine lipids are known to be involved in signaling for the phagocytosis of apoptotic cells or pieces of cells. They accomplish this by being exposed to the extracellular face of the cell membrane after the inactivation of flippases which place them exclusively on the cytosolic side and the activation of scramblases, which scramble the orientation of the phospholipids. After this occurs, other cells recognize the phosphatidylserines and phagocytosize the cells or cell fragments exposing them.[79]

Other functions

The "fat-soluble" vitamins (A, D, E and K) – which are isoprene-based lipids – are essential nutrients stored in the liver and fatty tissues, with a diverse range of functions. Acyl-carnitines are involved in the transport and metabolism of fatty acids in and out of mitochondria, where they undergo beta oxidation.[80] Polyprenols and their phosphorylated derivatives also play important transport roles, in this case the transport of oligosaccharides across membranes. Polyprenol phosphate sugars and polyprenol diphosphate sugars function in extra-cytoplasmic glycosylation reactions, in extracellular polysaccharide biosynthesis (for instance, peptidoglycan polymerization in bacteria), and in eukaryotic protein N-glycosylation.[81][82] Cardiolipins are a subclass of glycerophospholipids containing four acyl chains and three glycerol groups that are particularly abundant in the inner mitochondrial membrane.[83][84] They are believed to activate enzymes involved with oxidative phosphorylation.[85] Lipids also form the basis of steroid hormones.[86]

Metabolism

The major dietary lipids for humans and other animals are animal and plant triglycerides, sterols, and membrane phospholipids. The process of lipid metabolism synthesizes and degrades the lipid stores and produces the structural and functional lipids characteristic of individual tissues.

Biosynthesis

In animals, when there is an oversupply of dietary carbohydrate, the excess carbohydrate is converted to triglycerides. This involves the synthesis of fatty acids from acetyl-CoA and the esterification of fatty acids in the production of triglycerides, a process called lipogenesis.[87] Fatty acids are made by fatty acid synthases that polymerize and then reduce acetyl-CoA units. The acyl chains in the fatty acids are extended by a cycle of reactions that add the acetyl group, reduce it to an alcohol, dehydrate it to an alkene group and then reduce it again to an alkane group. The enzymes of fatty acid biosynthesis are divided into two groups, in animals and fungi all these fatty acid synthase reactions are carried out by a single multifunctional protein,[88] while in plant plastids and bacteria separate enzymes perform each step in the pathway.[89][90] The fatty acids may be subsequently converted to triglycerides that are packaged in lipoproteins and secreted from the liver.

The synthesis of unsaturated fatty acids involves a desaturation reaction, whereby a double bond is introduced into the fatty acyl chain. For example, in humans, the desaturation of stearic acid by stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1 produces oleic acid. The doubly unsaturated fatty acid linoleic acid as well as the triply unsaturated α-linolenic acid cannot be synthesized in mammalian tissues, and are therefore essential fatty acids and must be obtained from the diet.[91]

Triglyceride synthesis takes place in the endoplasmic reticulum by metabolic pathways in which acyl groups in fatty acyl-CoAs are transferred to the hydroxyl groups of glycerol-3-phosphate and diacylglycerol.[92]

Terpenes and isoprenoids, including the carotenoids, are made by the assembly and modification of isoprene units donated from the reactive precursors isopentenyl pyrophosphate and dimethylallyl pyrophosphate.[49] These precursors can be made in different ways. In animals and archaea, the mevalonate pathway produces these compounds from acetyl-CoA,[93] while in plants and bacteria the non-mevalonate pathway uses pyruvate and glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate as substrates.[49][94] One important reaction that uses these activated isoprene donors is steroid biosynthesis. Here, the isoprene units are joined together to make squalene and then folded up and formed into a set of rings to make lanosterol.[95] Lanosterol can then be converted into other steroids such as cholesterol and ergosterol.[95][96]

Degradation

Beta oxidation is the metabolic process by which fatty acids are broken down in the mitochondria or in peroxisomes to generate acetyl-CoA. For the most part, fatty acids are oxidized by a mechanism that is similar to, but not identical with, a reversal of the process of fatty acid synthesis. That is, two-carbon fragments are removed sequentially from the carboxyl end of the acid after steps of dehydrogenation, hydration, and oxidation to form a beta-keto acid, which is split by thiolysis. The acetyl-CoA is then ultimately converted into ATP, CO2, and H2O using the citric acid cycle and the electron transport chain. Hence the citric acid cycle can start at acetyl-CoA when fat is being broken down for energy if there is little or no glucose available. The energy yield of the complete oxidation of the fatty acid palmitate is 106 ATP.[97] Unsaturated and odd-chain fatty acids require additional enzymatic steps for degradation.

Nutrition and health

Most of the fat found in food is in the form of triglycerides, cholesterol, and phospholipids. Some dietary fat is necessary to facilitate absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and carotenoids.[98] Humans and other mammals have a dietary requirement for certain essential fatty acids, such as linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid) and alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) because they cannot be synthesized from simple precursors in the diet.[91] Both of these fatty acids are 18-carbon polyunsaturated fatty acids differing in the number and position of the double bonds. Most vegetable oils are rich in linoleic acid (safflower, sunflower, and corn oils). Alpha-linolenic acid is found in the green leaves of plants, and in selected seeds, nuts, and legumes (in particular flax, rapeseed, walnut, and soy).[99] Fish oils are particularly rich in the longer-chain omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).[100] A large number of studies have shown positive health benefits associated with consumption of omega-3 fatty acids on infant development, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and various mental illnesses, such as depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and dementia.[101][102] In contrast, it is now well-established that consumption of trans fats, such as those present in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Fats that are good for you can be turned into trans fats by overcooking.[103][104][105]

A few studies have suggested that total dietary fat intake is linked to an increased risk of obesity[106][107] and diabetes.[108] However, a number of very large studies, including the Women's Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial, an eight-year study of 49,000 women, the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, revealed no such links.[109][110] None of these studies suggested any connection between percentage of calories from fat and risk of cancer, heart disease, or weight gain. The Nutrition Source, a website maintained by the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, summarizes the current evidence on the impact of dietary fat: "Detailed research—much of it done at Harvard—shows that the total amount of fat in the diet isn't really linked with weight or disease."[111]

See also

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External links

Introductory

Nomenclature

Databases

  • LIPID MAPS – Comprehensive lipid and lipid-associated gene/protein databases.
  • LipidBank – Japanese database of lipids and related properties, spectral data and references.

General

  • ApolloLipids – Provides dyslipidemia and cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment information as well as continuing medical education programs
  • National Lipid Association – Professional medical education organization for health care professionals who seek to prevent morbidity and mortality stemming from dyslipidemias and other cholesterol-related disorders.
Biological membrane

A biological membrane or biomembrane is an enclosing or separating membrane that acts as a selectively permeable barrier within living things. Biological membranes, in the form of eukaryotic cell membranes, consist of a phospholipid bilayer with embedded, integral and peripheral proteins used in communication and transportation of chemicals and ions. The bulk of lipid in a cell membrane provides a fluid matrix for proteins to rotate and laterally diffuse for physiological functioning. Proteins are adapted to high membrane fluidity environment of lipid bilayer with the presence of an annular lipid shell, consisting of lipid molecules bound tightly to surface of integral membrane proteins. The cell membranes are different from the isolating tissues formed by layers of cells, such as mucous membranes, basement membranes, and serous membranes.

Cell membrane

The cell membrane (also known as the plasma membrane (PM) or cytoplasmic membrane, and historically referred to as the plasmalemma) is a biological membrane that separates the interior of all cells from the outside environment (the extracellular space) which protects the cell from its environment consisting of a lipid bilayer with embedded proteins. The cell membrane controls the movement of substances in and out of cells and organelles. In this way, it is selectively permeable to ions and organic molecules. In addition, cell membranes are involved in a variety of cellular processes such as cell adhesion, ion conductivity and cell signalling and serve as the attachment surface for several extracellular structures, including the cell wall, the carbohydrate layer called the glycocalyx, and the intracellular network of protein fibers called the cytoskeleton. In the field of synthetic biology, cell membranes can be artificially reassembled.

Dyslipidemia

Dyslipidemia is an abnormal amount of lipids (e.g. triglycerides, cholesterol and/or fat phospholipids) in the blood. In developed countries, most dyslipidemias are hyperlipidemias; that is, an elevation of lipids in the blood. This is often due to diet and lifestyle. Prolonged elevation of insulin levels can also lead to dyslipidemia. Likewise, increased levels of O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT) may cause dyslipidemia.

Fat

Fat is one of the three main macronutrients, along with the other two: carbohydrate and protein. Fats molecules consist of primarily carbon and hydrogen atoms, thus they are all hydrocarbon molecules. Examples include cholesterol, phospholipids and triglycerides.

The terms "lipid", "oil" and "fat" are often confused. "Lipid" is the general term, though a lipid is not necessarily a triglyceride. "Oil" normally refers to a lipid with short or unsaturated fatty acid chains that is liquid at room temperature, while "fat" (in the strict sense) may specifically refer to lipids that are solids at room temperature – however, "fat" (in the broad sense) may be used in food science as a synonym for lipid. Fats, like other lipids, are generally hydrophobic, and are soluble in organic solvents and insoluble in water.

Fat is an important foodstuff for many forms of life, and fats serve both structural and metabolic functions. They are a necessary part of the diet of most heterotrophs (including humans) and are the most energy dense, thus the most efficient form of energy storage and do not bind water thus do not increase body mass as much as proteins, especially carbohydrates, both of which bind a lot more water.

Some fatty acids that are set free by the digestion of fats are called essential because they cannot be synthesized in the body from simpler constituents. There are two essential fatty acids (EFAs) in human nutrition: alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid). Other lipids needed by the body can be synthesized from these and other fats. Fats and other lipids are broken down in the body by enzymes called lipases produced in the pancreas.

Fats and oils are categorized according to the number and bonding of the carbon atoms in the aliphatic chain. Fats that are saturated fats have no double bonds between the carbons in the chain. Unsaturated fats have one or more double bonded carbons in the chain. The nomenclature is based on the non-acid (non-carbonyl) end of the chain. This end is called the omega end or the n-end. Thus alpha-linolenic acid is called an omega-3 fatty acid because the 3rd carbon from that end is the first double bonded carbon in the chain counting from that end. Some oils and fats have multiple double bonds and are therefore called polyunsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats can be further divided into cis fats, which are the most common in nature, and trans fats, which are rare in nature. Unsaturated fats can be altered by reaction with hydrogen effected by a catalyst. This action, called hydrogenation, tends to break all the double bonds and makes a fully saturated fat. To make vegetable shortening, then, liquid cis-unsaturated fats such as vegetable oils are hydrogenated to produce saturated fats, which have more desirable physical properties e.g., they melt at a desirable temperature (30–40 °C), and store well, whereas polyunsaturated oils go rancid when they react with oxygen in the air. However, trans fats are generated during hydrogenation as contaminants created by an unwanted side reaction on the catalyst during partial hydrogenation.

Saturated fats can stack themselves in a closely packed arrangement, so they can solidify easily and are typically solid at room temperature. For example, animal fats tallow and lard are high in saturated fatty acid content and are solids. Olive and linseed oils on the other hand are unsaturated and liquid. Fats serve both as energy sources for the body, and as stores for energy in excess of what the body needs immediately. Each gram of fat when burned or metabolized releases about 9 food calories (37 kJ = 8.8 kcal). Fats are broken down in the healthy body to release their constituents, glycerol and fatty acids. Glycerol itself can be converted to glucose by the liver and so become a source of energy.

Fatty acid

In chemistry, particularly in biochemistry, a fatty acid is a carboxylic acid with a long aliphatic chain, which is either saturated or unsaturated. Most naturally occurring fatty acids have an unbranched chain of an even number of carbon atoms, from 4 to 28. Fatty acids are usually not found in organisms, but instead as three main classes of esters: triglycerides, phospholipids, and cholesterol esters. In any of these forms, fatty acids are both important dietary sources of fuel for animals and they are important structural components for cells.

Kinase

In biochemistry, a kinase is an enzyme that catalyzes the transfer of phosphate groups from high-energy, phosphate-donating molecules to specific substrates. This process is known as phosphorylation, where the substrate gains a phosphate group and the high-energy ATP molecule donates a phosphate group. This transesterification produces a phosphorylated substrate and ADP. Conversely, it is referred to as dephosphorylation when the phosphorylated substrate donates a phosphate group and ADP gains a phosphate group (producing a dephosphorylated substrate and the high energy molecule of ATP). These two processes, phosphorylation and dephosphorylation, occur four times during glycolysis. Kinases are part of the larger family of phosphotransferases. Kinases should not be confused with phosphorylases, which catalyze the addition of inorganic phosphate groups to an acceptor, nor with phosphatases, which remove phosphate groups. The phosphorylation state of a molecule, whether it be a protein, lipid, or carbohydrate, can affect its activity, reactivity, and its ability to bind other molecules. Therefore, kinases are critical in metabolism, cell signalling, protein regulation, cellular transport, secretory processes, and many other cellular pathways, which makes them very important to human physiology.

Lipid-lowering agent

Hypolipidemic agents, or antihyperlipidemic agents, are a diverse group of pharmaceuticals that are used in the treatment of high levels of fats (lipids), such as cholesterol, in the blood (hyperlipidemia). They are called lipid-lowering drugs.

Lipid bilayer

The lipid bilayer (or phospholipid bilayer) is a thin polar membrane made of two layers of lipid molecules. These membranes are flat sheets that form a continuous barrier around all cells. The cell membranes of almost all organisms and many viruses are made of a lipid bilayer, as are the nuclear membrane surrounding the cell nucleus, and other membranes surrounding sub-cellular structures. The lipid bilayer is the barrier that keeps ions, proteins and other molecules where they are needed and prevents them from diffusing into areas where they should not be. Lipid bilayers are ideally suited to this role, even though they are only a few nanometers in width, they are impermeable to most water-soluble (hydrophilic) molecules. Bilayers are particularly impermeable to ions, which allows cells to regulate salt concentrations and pH by transporting ions across their membranes using proteins called ion pumps.

Biological bilayers are usually composed of amphiphilic phospholipids that have a hydrophilic phosphate head and a hydrophobic tail consisting of two fatty acid chains. Phospholipids with certain head groups can alter the surface chemistry of a bilayer and can, for example, serve as signals as well as "anchors" for other molecules in the membranes of cells. Just like the heads, the tails of lipids can also affect membrane properties, for instance by determining the phase of the bilayer. The bilayer can adopt a solid gel phase state at lower temperatures but undergo phase transition to a fluid state at higher temperatures, and the chemical properties of the lipids' tails influence at which temperature this happens. The packing of lipids within the bilayer also affects its mechanical properties, including its resistance to stretching and bending. Many of these properties have been studied with the use of artificial "model" bilayers produced in a lab. Vesicles made by model bilayers have also been used clinically to deliver drugs.

Biological membranes typically include several types of molecules other than phospholipids. A particularly important example in animal cells is cholesterol, which helps strengthen the bilayer and decrease its permeability. Cholesterol also helps regulate the activity of certain integral membrane proteins. Integral membrane proteins function when incorporated into a lipid bilayer, and they are held tightly to lipid bilayer with the help of an annular lipid shell. Because bilayers define the boundaries of the cell and its compartments, these membrane proteins are involved in many intra- and inter-cellular signaling processes. Certain kinds of membrane proteins are involved in the process of fusing two bilayers together. This fusion allows the joining of two distinct structures as in the fertilization of an egg by sperm or the entry of a virus into a cell. Because lipid bilayers are quite fragile and invisible in a traditional microscope, they are a challenge to study. Experiments on bilayers often require advanced techniques like electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy.

Lipid metabolism

Lipid metabolism is the synthesis and degradation of lipids in cells, involving the breakdown or storage of fats for energy. These fats are obtained from consuming food and absorbing them or they are synthesized by an animal's liver. Lipogenesis is the process of synthesizing these fats. The majority of lipids found in the human body from ingesting food are triglycerides and cholesterol. Other types of lipids found in the body are fatty acids and membrane Lipids. Lipid metabolism is often considered the digestion and absorption process of dietary fat; however, there are two ways organisms can use fats to obtain energy: consumed dietary fats and storage fat. Vertebrates and humans use both methods of fat usage as their sources of energy for organs such as the heart to function. Since lipids are hydrophobic molecules, they need to be solubilized before their metabolism begin. Lipid metabolism often begins with hydrolysis, which occurs with the help of various enzymes in the digestive system. Lipid metabolism does exist in plants, though the processes differ in some ways when compared to animals. The second step after the hydrolysis is the absorption of the fatty acids into the epithelial cells of the intestinal wall. In the epithelial cells, fatty acids are packaged and transported to the rest of the body.

Lipid peroxidation

Lipid peroxidation is the oxidative degradation of lipids. It is the process in which free radicals "steal" electrons from the lipids in cell membranes, resulting in cell damage. This process proceeds by a free radical chain reaction mechanism. It most often affects polyunsaturated fatty acids, because they contain multiple double bonds in between which lie methylene bridges (-CH2-) that possess especially reactive hydrogen atoms. As with any radical reaction, the reaction consists of three major steps: initiation, propagation, and termination. The chemical products of this oxidation are known as lipid peroxides or lipid oxidation products (LOPs).

Lipid storage disorder

A lipid storage disorder (or lipidosis) can be any one of a group of inherited metabolic disorders in which harmful amounts of fats or lipids accumulate in some of the body’s cells and tissues. People with these disorders either do not produce enough of one of the enzymes needed to metabolize and break down lipids or they produce enzymes that do not work properly. Over time, this excessive storage of fats can cause permanent cellular and tissue damage, particularly in the brain, peripheral nervous system, liver, spleen and bone marrow.

Inside cells under normal conditions, lysosomes convert, or metabolize, lipids and proteins into smaller components to provide energy for the body.

Lipophilicity

Lipophilicity (from Greek λίπος "fat" and φίλος "friendly"), refers to the ability of a chemical compound to dissolve in fats, oils, lipids, and non-polar solvents such as hexane or toluene. Such non-polar solvents are themselves lipophilic (translated as "fat-loving" or "fat-liking"), and the axiom that "like dissolves like" generally holds true. Thus lipophilic substances tend to dissolve in other lipophilic substances, but hydrophilic ("water-loving") substances tend to dissolve in water and other hydrophilic substances.

Lipophilicity, hydrophobicity, and non-polarity may describe the same tendency towards participation in the London dispersion force, as the terms are often used interchangeably. However, the terms "lipophilic" and "hydrophobic" are not synonymous, as can be seen with silicones and fluorocarbons, which are hydrophobic but not lipophilic.

Lipopolysaccharide

Lipopolysaccharides (LPS), also known as lipoglycans and endotoxins, are large molecules consisting of a lipid and a polysaccharide composed of O-antigen, outer core and inner core joined by a covalent bond; they are found in the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria.

The term lipooligosaccharide ("LOS") is used to refer to a low-molecular-weight form of bacterial lipopolysaccharides.

Lipoprotein

A lipoprotein is a biochemical assembly whose primary purpose is to transport hydrophobic lipid (a.k.a. fat) molecules in water, as in blood or extracellular fluid. They have a single-layer phospholipid and cholesterol outer shell, with the hydrophilic portions oriented outward toward the surrounding water and lipophilic portions of each molecule oriented inwards toward the lipids molecules within the particles. Apolipoproteins are embedded in the membrane, both stabilising the complex and giving it functional identity determining its fate. Thus the complex serves to emulsify the fats. Many enzymes, transporters, structural proteins, antigens, adhesions, and toxins are lipoproteins. Examples include the plasma lipoprotein particles classified as HDL, LDL, IDL, VLDL and ULDL (a.k.a. chylomicrons) lipoproteins, according to density / size (an inverse relationship), compared with the surrounding plasma water. These complex protein capsules enable fats to be carried in all extracellular water, including the blood stream (an example of emulsification), subgroups of which are primary drivers / modulators of atherosclerosis, the transmembrane proteins of mitochondrion, chloroplast, and bacterial lipoproteins. Proteolipids are a different kind of protein-lipid combination that are insoluble in water. Proteolipids are abundant in brain tissue, and are also present in many other animal and plant tissues.

Liposome

A liposome is a spherical vesicle having at least one lipid bilayer. The liposome can be used as a vehicle for administration of nutrients and pharmaceutical drugs. Liposomes can be prepared by disrupting biological membranes (such as by sonication).

Liposomes are most often composed of phospholipids, especially phosphatidylcholine, but may also include other lipids, such as egg phosphatidylethanolamine, so long as they are compatible with lipid bilayer structure. A liposome design may employ surface ligands for attaching to unhealthy tissue.The major types of liposomes are the multilamellar vesicle (MLV, with several lamellar phase lipid bilayers), the small unilamellar liposome vesicle (SUV, with one lipid bilayer), the large unilamellar vesicle (LUV), and the cochleate vesicle. A less desirable form are multivesicular liposomes in which one vesicle contains one or more smaller vesicles.

Liposomes should not be confused with lysosomes, or with micelles and reverse micelles composed of monolayers.

Local anesthetic

A local anesthetic (LA) is a medication that causes absence of pain sensation. When it is used on specific nerve pathways (local anesthetic nerve block), paralysis (loss of muscle power) also can be achieved.

Clinical LAs belong to one of two classes: aminoamide and aminoester local anesthetics. Synthetic LAs are structurally related to cocaine. They differ from cocaine mainly in that they have a very low abuse potential and do not produce hypertension or (with few exceptions) vasoconstriction.

They are used in various techniques of local anesthesia such as:

Topical anesthesia (surface)

Topical administration of cream, gel, ointment, liquid, or spray of anaesthetic dissolved in DMSO or other solvents/carriers for deeper absorption

Infiltration

Brachial plexus block

Epidural (extradural) block

Spinal anesthesia (subarachnoid block)

Iontophoresis

Membrane protein

Membrane proteins are proteins that interact with, or are part of, biological membranes. They include integral membrane proteins that are permanently anchored or part of the membrane and peripheral membrane proteins that are only temporarily attached to the lipid bilayer or to other integral proteins. The integral membrane proteins are classified as transmembrane proteins that span across the membrane and integral monotopic proteins that are attached to only one side of the membrane. Membrane proteins are a common type of proteins along with soluble globular proteins, fibrous proteins, and disordered proteins. They are targets of over 50% of all modern medicinal drugs. It is estimated that 20–30% of all genes in most genomes encode membrane proteins.Compared to other classes of proteins, the determination of membrane protein structures has remained a challenge in large part due to the difficulty in establishing experimental conditions where the correct conformation of the protein in isolation from its native environment is preserved.

Phospholipid

Phospholipids are a class of lipids that are a major component of all cell membranes. They can form lipid bilayers because of their amphiphilic characteristic. The structure of the phospholipid molecule generally consists of two hydrophobic fatty acid "tails" and a hydrophilic "head" consisting of a phosphate group. The two components are joined together by a glycerol molecule. The phosphate groups can be modified with simple organic molecules such as choline, ethanolamine or serine.

The first phospholipid identified in 1847 as such in biological tissues was lecithin, or phosphatidylcholine, in the egg yolk of chickens by the French chemist and pharmacist, Theodore Nicolas Gobley. Biological membranes in eukaryotes also contain another class of lipid, sterol, interspersed among the phospholipids and together they provide membrane fluidity and mechanical strength. Purified phospholipids are produced commercially and have found applications in nanotechnology and materials science.

Pneumonitis

Pneumonitis or pulmonitis is an inflammation of lung tissue due to factors other than microorganisms. Those can be radiation therapy of the chest , exposure to medications used during chemo-therapy, the inhalation of debris (e.g., animal dander), of food particles during vomiting, herbicides or fluorocarbons and some systemic diseases.

It is distinguished from pneumonia on the basis of causation as well as its manifestation since pneumonia can be described as pneumonitis combined with consolidation and exudation of lung tissue due to infection with microorganism.

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