Cellular uptake and intracellular trafficking of long chain fatty acids

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Journal of Lipid Research


While aspects of cellular fatty acid uptake have been studied as early as 50 years ago, recent developments in this rapidly evolving field have yielded new functional insights on the individual mechanistic steps in this process. The extremely low aqueous solubility of long chain fatty acids (LCFA) together with the very high affinity of serum albumin and cytoplasmic fatty acid binding proteins for LCFA have challenged the limits of technology in resolving the individual steps of this process. To date no single mechanism alone accounts for regulation of cellular LCFA uptake. Key regulatory points in cellular uptake of LCFA include: the aqueous solubility of the LCFA; the driving force(s) for LCFA entry into the cell membrane; the relative roles of diffusional and protein mediated LCFA translocation across the plasma membrane; cytoplasmic LCFA binding protein-mediated uptake and/or intracellular diffusion; the activity of LCFA-CoA synthetase; and cytoplasmic protein mediated targeting of LCFA or LCFA-CoAs toward specific metabolic pathways. The emerging picture is that the cell has multiple, overlapping mechanisms that assure adequate uptake and directed intracellular movement of LCFA required for maintenance of physiological functions. The upcoming challenge is to take advantage of new advances in this field to elucidate the differential interactions between these pathways in intact cells and in tissues.

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