Fatty acids in vascular health

Reggie Hui Chao Lee, Carl S. Wilkins, Aexandre Couto E Silva, Stephen E. Valido, Celeste Yin Chieh Wu, Hung Wen Lin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Fatty acids have traditionally been described as artery clogging species that is detrimental to overall health. The most prevalent fatty acid is palmitic acid (PA), a sixteen carbon chain fatty acid that is ubiquitous in biological systems. PA is prevalent in most eukaryotic cell membranes and in the mitochondria derived from the Krebs' cycle utilizing acetyl-coenzyme A as its' precursor. PA is found in a variety of plants with a high amounts in coconut oil. Many cosmetics, shampoos, and commercialized beauty products contain PA providing structure and substance to the gel or reagent. An emerging field of study is the esterified form of PA or methyl palmitate, as it is involved in biological signaling in the central nervous system. More specifically, methyl palmitate or palmitic acid methyl ester can cause arterial vasodilation and is thought to be involved in neurotransmission, as well as modulate vascular tonicity in cerebral circulation. Methyl palmitate has also been implicated as a neuroprotective agent in both models of focal and global cerebral ischemia; however, the exact mechanism(s) are still unknown. We will focus on the known pharmacology, biochemistry, and clinical implications of PA and other related fatty acids (i.e. Non-esterified v. esterified fatty acids) commonly found in daily diets. Additionally, cellular target(s) of PA will be discussed as it relates to improvement of disease states, synthesis, and possible health implications/benefits of methyl palmitate in biological systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPalmitic Acid
Subtitle of host publicationOccurrence, Biochemistry and Health Effects
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781633215498
ISBN (Print)9781633215191
StatePublished - Jul 1 2014


  • Cerebral ischemia
  • Methyl palmitate
  • Palmitic acid methyl ester
  • Stearic acid
  • Stearic acid methyl ester
  • Stroke
  • Vasodilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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