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- 1 What Is The Building Block Of Lipids
- 2 What Are Lipids? Function, Benefits, And Risks
What Is The Building Block Of Lipids
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A lipid is any of a variety of organic compounds that are insoluble in water. They include fats, waxes, oils, hormones, and certain membrane components and function as energy storage molecules and chemical messengers. Together with proteins and carbohydrates, lipids are one of the main structural components of living cells.
Lipids are a diverse group of compounds and perform many different functions. At the cellular level, phospholipids and cholesterol are among the main components of the membranes that separate the cell from the environment. Hormones derived from lipids, known as steroid hormones, are important chemical messengers and include testosterone and estrogens. At the level of the body, triglycerides stored in fat cells serve as a depot for energy storage and also provide thermal insulation.
Lipid rafts are possible regions of the cell membrane that contain high concentrations of cholesterol and glycosphingolipids. The existence of lipid rafts has not been definitively established, although many researchers suspect that such rafts do exist and may play a role in membrane fluidity, intercellular communication, and viral infection.
Lipid, any of a diverse group of organic compounds, including fats, oils, hormones, and certain components of membranes, that are grouped together because they do not interact appreciably with water. One type of lipid, triglycerides, is sequestered as fat in fat cells, which serve as energy storage depots in the body and also provide thermal insulation. Some lipids, such as steroid hormones, serve as chemical messengers between cells, tissues, and organs, while others transmit signals between biochemical systems within the same cell. Cell membranes and organelles (structures within cells) are microscopically thin structures formed from two layers of phospholipid molecules. Membranes function to separate individual cells from their environment and to divide the interior of the cell into structures that perform specialized functions. This compartmentalization function is so important that membranes and the lipids that make them up must have been essential to the origin of life itself.
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A false color photomicrograph of an oogonium (egg cells of certain algae and fungi) taken from a transmission electron microscope, showing abundant lipid droplets (yellow), a nucleus (green), an atypical nucleolus (dark blue), and mitochondria (red).
Water is the biological medium—the substance that makes life possible—and almost all the molecular components of living cells, whether animal, plant, or microorganism, are soluble in water. Molecules such as proteins, nucleic acids, and carbohydrates have an affinity for water and are called hydrophilic (“water-loving”). However, lipids are hydrophobic (“water-fearing”). Some lipids are amphipathic—part of their structure is hydrophilic and another part, usually the majority, is hydrophobic. Amphipathic lipids show a unique behavior in water: they spontaneously form ordered molecular aggregates, the hydrophilic ends of which are located outside in contact with water, and the hydrophobic parts are inside, protected from water. This property is key to their role as major components of cell membranes and organelles.
Although biological lipids are not large macromolecular polymers (such as proteins, nucleic acids, and polysaccharides), many are formed by the chemical bonding of several small constituent molecules. Many of these molecular building blocks are similar or homologous in structure. Homologies allow us to classify lipids into several main groups: fatty acids, fatty acid derivatives, cholesterol and its derivatives, and lipoproteins. This article covers the major groups and explains how these molecules function as energy storage molecules, chemical messengers, and structural components of cells.
Fatty acids rarely occur in nature as free molecules, but are commonly found as components of many complex lipid molecules, such as fats (energy-storing compounds) and phospholipids (the main lipid components of cell membranes). This chapter describes the structure and physical and chemical properties of fatty acids. It also explains how living organisms obtain fatty acids both from their diet and through the metabolic breakdown of stored fats.
What Are Lipids? Function, Benefits, And Risks
Biological fatty acids, members of a class of compounds known as carboxylic acids, consist of a hydrocarbon chain with one terminal carboxyl group (COOH). A fragment of a carboxylic acid that does not contain a hydroxyl (OH) group is called an acyl group. Under physiological conditions in water, this acid group usually loses a hydrogen ion (H
). Most biological fatty acids contain an even number of carbon atoms, because a biosynthetic pathway common to all organisms involves the chemical bonding of two-carbon units to each other (although relatively small amounts of odd-numbered fatty acids occur in some organisms). Although the molecule as a whole is insoluble in water due to its hydrophobic hydrocarbon chain, the negatively charged carboxylate is hydrophilic. This common form for biological lipids, which contains well-separated hydrophobic and hydrophilic parts, is called amphipathic.
In addition to straight-chain hydrocarbons, fatty acids may also contain pairs of carbon atoms connected by one or more double bonds, methyl branches, or a three-carbon cyclopropane ring near the center of the carbon chain. The search for an understanding of lipids has puzzled us all since the first year of medical school. We tried to understand, but most of us don’t. Then we decided not to complicate the situation any more and did our best to rob her. Now we’re only left with an idea of a few lipids like HDL, LDL, VLDL, triglycerides, cholesterol and their normal serum ranges, just to know which statins to start our grandparents on when their labs go wrong .
Lipids are complex. But the amount of knowledge that a graduate of the medical faculty must retain for good practice is small. This small can even be broken down into “small” when we understand what lipids actually are. The fact is that these lipids are nothing new. We studied them at school.
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We missed the connection between the fatty acid chemistry we studied in school and the lipid biochemistry we now study in college.
Where do we start? We call them lipids because they do not dissolve in water. This hydrophobic property of lipids is responsible for most of their functions and the structures they perform. We will start with the simplest forms of lipids and slowly move to their complex structures and then to metabolism. Let’s start with the main question:
Fat is the simplest of all lipids. It is a fatty acid ester with glycerol. Yes, it may seem difficult. So let’s break it down.
This R (alkyl) group in a carboxylic acid can contain any number of carbon atoms. When the total number of carbon atoms in a carboxylic acid (including the carboxyl group) exceeds four, we will call it a fatty acid. A good example is 16-carbon palmitic acid [CH
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The importance of the number of carbon atoms in any fatty acid is that the melting point of the fatty acid increases with the increase in the number of carbon atoms, that is, the higher the number of carbon atoms, the higher the melting point of the fatty acid and, therefore, the more solid the fatty acid is at room temperature . Because fatty acids are the building blocks of lipids such as fats, cholesterol, and lipoproteins, they also take on the physical characteristics of fatty acids.
A little more we need to know about fatty acids. As can be seen from the above structure of palmitic acid, all bonds in the alkyl group (hydrocarbon chain) are single. Therefore, palmitic acid is an example of a saturated fatty acid. When one or more double bonds are introduced between carbon atoms in a hydrocarbon chain, we will call it a monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fatty acid, respectively. An example of a monounsaturated fatty acid is palmitoleic acid, and an example of a polyunsaturated fatty acid is linoleic acid.
To make this clumsy structure pleasing to our eye, I will henceforth represent fatty acids as a zigzag line, in which the corners represent the carbon atom whose valence is filled with hydrogen atoms, unless otherwise indicated. Redrawing all the structures we’ve seen, we now have:
1) For every double bond we introduce into a fatty acid, we lower its melting point to some degree. Remember that even complex lipids (made from fatty acids) take on this property of fatty acids. Lipids in our body or in any other organism must exist as a liquid. This is one of the reasons for the benefits of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which exist as a liquid at physiological temperature. Organisms such as fish that live in the cold environment of the sea must also maintain their lipids in a liquid state. How do they do it? They make their fatty acids as polyunsaturated as possible. Thus, fish oil is rich in PUFA.
Solution: Biochemistry Of Lipids
2) Another effect
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