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Special Issue "The Multiple Roles of Fatty Acids"

A special issue of Molecules (ISSN 1420-3049).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2018

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Carla C. C. R. de Carvalho

iBB-Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences, Instituto Superior Técnico, Department of Bioengineering, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
Website | E-Mail
Interests: bacterial lipids; bacterial adaptation; membrane phospholipids; biofilms; biocatalysis; bioremediation; bioprocess engineering
Guest Editor
Dr. Maria José Caramujo

cE3c - Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
Website | E-Mail
Interests: aquatic food webs; fatty acid bioconversion; lipid metabolism; carotenoids; metabolomics; breast cancer metabolism

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Fatty acids (FA) are especially suitable as tools to examine processes that range from cellular to macroscopic levels of organization. Lipids comprise a large group of chemically heterogeneous compounds, the majority of which include esters of FA as part of their structure. FA represent, thus, the “building blocks” of lipids and are the largest constituent of neutral lipids, such as triacylglycerols (TAG) and wax esters (WE), which have storage functions, as well as of the polar phospholipids which are important structural components of cell membranes. FA can be used directly for energy production through beta-oxidation; there are indications that polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) have nutritionally stabilizing functions; and essential fatty acids (EFA) are precursors to eicosanoid signalling molecules (i.e. prostaglandins prostacyclins, the thromboxanes and the leukotrienes). FA derived metabolites (e.g. oxylipins) may also mediate chemical interactions controlling herbivory patterns and reproduction of aquatic organisms with implications for the functioning of aquatic food webs.

Studies on FA and their metabolism are important in several research fields including, e.g. biology, bacteriology, ecology and oncology. Specific FA and their ratios in the cellular membranes of organisms may be used as biomarkers to aid in the identification of organisms, food web connections or to study adaptation of bacterial cells to toxic compounds or environmental conditions. The ability exhibited by actinomycetes to thrive under conditions fatal to other bacteria is ascribed to the presence of mycolic acids, i.e. long FA in its unusually robust cell wall. Specialized lipids allow bacteria and archaea to live under extreme conditions, such as those found in abyssal marine trenches or hot vents, where they form the base of the local food web. Mycobacterium tuberculosis cells in the human lung enter a dormant state within granulomas where they survive by incorporating FA from the host triacylglycerols into lipid droplets. Alterations in FA metabolism in cancer cells are increasingly recognised and more attention is being devoted to the fact that in these cells, carbon must be diverted from energy production to FA for biosynthesis of membranes and signalling molecules.

Lipid and FA research has gained considerable applied importance in human nutrition and health as human are “top predators” that require essential dietary nutrients in their diet, and many signal and disease related mechanisms involve lipid components. In humans, PUFA like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) play key roles in heart health, immune and inflammatory responses, visual acuity as well being major components of neurological tissues, such as the brain and spinal cord. Consumer health trends further contribute to the current interest in lipids as the debate over the benefits and risks of PUFA, trans-unsaturated and hydrogenated FA for human health appear daily in the media.

In this Special Issue, we intend to highlight the importance of FA studies to answer important questions in different research fields.

Dr. Carla C. C. R. de Carvalho
Dr. Maria José Caramujo
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Molecules is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • saturated fatty acids
  • unsaturated fatty acids
  • polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • specialized lipids
  • phospholipids
  • storage lipids
  • lipidomics
  • biofuels

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Open AccessArticle Interrelationships among Fatty Acid Composition, Staphyloxanthin Content, Fluidity, and Carbon Flow in the Staphylococcus aureus Membrane
Molecules 2018, 23(5), 1201; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules23051201
Received: 5 April 2018 / Revised: 14 May 2018 / Accepted: 16 May 2018 / Published: 17 May 2018
PDF Full-text (3728 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Fatty acids play a major role in determining membrane biophysical properties. Staphylococcus aureus produces branched-chain fatty acids (BCFAs) and straight-chain saturated fatty acids (SCSFAs), and can directly incorporate exogenous SCSFAs and straight-chain unsaturated fatty acids (SCUFAs). Many S. aureus strains produce the triterpenoid
[...] Read more.
Fatty acids play a major role in determining membrane biophysical properties. Staphylococcus aureus produces branched-chain fatty acids (BCFAs) and straight-chain saturated fatty acids (SCSFAs), and can directly incorporate exogenous SCSFAs and straight-chain unsaturated fatty acids (SCUFAs). Many S. aureus strains produce the triterpenoid pigment staphyloxanthin, and the balance of BCFAs, SCSFAs and staphyloxanthin determines membrane fluidity. Here, we investigated the relationship of fatty acid and carotenoid production in S. aureus using a pigmented strain (Pig1), its carotenoid-deficient mutant (Pig1ΔcrtM) and the naturally non-pigmented Staphylococcus argenteus that lacks carotenoid biosynthesis genes and is closely related to S. aureus. Fatty acid compositions in all strains were similar under a given culture condition indicating that staphyloxanthin does not influence fatty acid composition. Strain Pig1 had decreased membrane fluidity as measured by fluorescence anisotropy compared to the other strains under all conditions indicating that staphyloxanthin helps maintain membrane rigidity. We could find no evidence for correlation of expression of crtM and fatty acid biosynthesis genes. Supplementation of medium with glucose increased SCSFA production and decreased BCFA and staphyloxanthin production, whereas acetate-supplementation also decreased BCFAs but increased staphyloxanthin production. We believe that staphyloxanthin levels are influenced more through metabolic regulation than responding to fatty acids incorporated into the membrane. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Multiple Roles of Fatty Acids)

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle Energy-Protein Supplementation and Lactation Affect Fatty Acid Profile of Liver and Adipose Tissue of Dairy Cows
Molecules 2018, 23(3), 618; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules23030618
Received: 9 January 2018 / Revised: 28 February 2018 / Accepted: 7 March 2018 / Published: 9 March 2018
PDF Full-text (370 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
This article addresses the hypothesis that lactation stage, parity and energy-protein feed additive affect fatty acid composition of blood, liver and adipose tissue of cows. The experiment was conducted on 24 Polish Holstein-Friesian cows divided into two feeding groups. One group of cows
[...] Read more.
This article addresses the hypothesis that lactation stage, parity and energy-protein feed additive affect fatty acid composition of blood, liver and adipose tissue of cows. The experiment was conducted on 24 Polish Holstein-Friesian cows divided into two feeding groups. One group of cows was fed solely a total mixed ration, while the other group was fed a ration with the addition of 2 kg of energy-protein supplement per cow/day. During the experiment, the samples of liver, adipose tissue and blood were taken and their fatty acid compositions were determined. Analysis of variance was applied to fatty acid relative weight percentage to determine the effect of the stage of lactation, parity, and energy-protein supplement on the fatty acid composition of the tissues. Stage of lactation had a significant impact on the content of many fatty acids in all examined tissues. We found that parity had no effect on fatty acid composition of blood, whereas it significantly affected C16:1 c9 in liver, and C16:1 c9 and C18:0 in adipose tissue. Energy-protein supplement significantly affected the content of most fatty acids in blood (e.g., C18:1 t11 and C18:3 n-3) and liver (C18:3 n-3, both isomers of conjugated linolenic acid and n-3 fatty acids derived from fish oil), but it did not affect the profile of the adipose tissue of cows. According to our best knowledge, this is the first study showing the relationship between parity, stage of lactation and the composition of fatty acids in blood, liver and adipose tissue of cows. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Multiple Roles of Fatty Acids)

Figure 1

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Membrane fatty acid composition and cell surface hydrophobicities of marine hydrocarbonoclastic Alcanivorax borkumensis SK2 grown on diesel, biodiesel and rapeseed oil as carbon sources
Authors: Maria Konieczna 1, Martin Olzog 1, Daniela J. Naether 2, Hermann J. Heipieper 1,*
Affiliations: 1 Department of Environmental Biotechnology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Permoserstr. 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
2 Department of Molecular Biosciences, Goethe University Frankfurt, Max-von-Laue-Str. 9, 60438 Frankfurt, Germany
Abstract: The marine hydrocarbonoclastic bacterium Alcanivorax borkumensis is able to degrade mixtures of n-alkanes as they occur in marine oil spills. The bacteria are able to degrade n-alkanes of different chain lengths as substrates. Growth on distinct n-alkanes proved the capability of the bacteria to not only incorporate but also modify fatty intermediates derived from the alkane degradation pathway.
In order to compare growth rates and fatty acid patterns of bacteria growth on different potential pollutants, we examined growth and cell physiology of A. borkumensis when cultured with diesel, biodiesel, and rapeseed oil as sole carbon and energy source. Next to differences in growth rates, membrane fatty acid patterns of cells grown on the different substrates tested showed big differences as well. Most remarkable, cells grown on rapeseed oil, biodiesel and diesel showed significant amounts of the two polyunsaturated fatty acids linoleic acid and linolenic acid in their membrane fatty acids directly incorporated from the substrates. By direct incorporation of these external fatty acids the bacteria safe energy allowing them to degrade those pollutants in a more efficient way.

Tentative title: Lipid droplets in cancer
Authors: Toni Petan
Affiliation: Department of Molecular and Biomedical Sciences Jozef Stefan Institute Jamova 39 SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Abstract: Lipid droplets, long regarded as inert fat storage depots, are now recognised as organelles that regulate lipid metabolism and signalling, protein quality control, viral replication and immunity. They balance fatty acid uptake, storage and use with cellular needs, acting as transient buffers that prevent lipotoxicity of excess exogenous and endogenous fatty acids, while simultaneously providing fuel for mitochondrial oxidative metabolism. Lipid droplet biogenesis is induced in cells exposed to nutrient and oxidative stress and they accumulate in various cancers. In this review, we will discuss the current knowledge and future challenges in the field, with an emphasis on the emerging roles of lipid droplets in the cellular stress response in cancer.

Title: The anti-fungal properties of epidermal fatty acid esters: insights from White-nose Syndrome (WNS) in bats
Craig L. Frank 1,*, Katherine G. Sitler-Elbel 2 and Anna J. Hudson 2
1   Department of Biological Sciences, Fordham University, Louis Calder Center, Armonk, NY, United States of America
2   Environmental Science Program, Fordham University, Bronx, NY, United States of America
*   Corresponding author; e-mail: frank@fordham.edu
RUNNING HEAD: Pseudogymnoascus destructans and epidermal fatty acid esters
Abstract:The mammalian epidermis is composed chiefly of specialized epithelial cells named keratinocytes that occur in 4 distinct strata, and the lipids of the top stratum (the stratum corneum) are a mixture from both the extracellular matrix secreted by keratinocytes, and sebum produced by the sebaceous glands.  It consists of free fatty acids (FFAs), triacylglycerols, diacylglycerols, monoacylglycerols, wax esters, squalene, cholesterol, and cholesterol esters.  Some free fatty acids have potent anti-microbial effects.  We thus predicted that esters of these fatty acids also have anti-microbial effects.  We tested this hypothesis by examining the effects of monoacylglycerols, diacylglycerols, and wax esters on the growth of Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), the fungus that causes White-nose Syndrome (WNS) in North American bats by invading the epidermis.  Three FFAs (palmitoleic, oleic, and, linoleic acids) are known to inhibit Pd growth.  Laboratory experiments with Pd cultures demonstrated that: a) 3 monoacylglycerols (monopalmitolein, monoolein, and monolinolein), as well as, b) 2 wax esters (behenyl oleate and behenyl palmitoleate) all greatly inhibited Pd growth.  Bat species resistant to cutaneous Pd infections have these monoacylglycerol and wax ester types in their epidermis, thus this is one factor which enables them to avoid WNS.   These findings support our hypothesis.

Type of Paper: Review
Title: Tentative title: α-Synuclein and polyunsaturated fatty acids: Molecular basis of the interaction and implication in neurodegeneration
Authors: Chiara Fecchio1, Luana Palazzi2 and Patrizia Polverino de Laureto2
Affiliation: 1Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Padova
2Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences, CRIBI, University of Padova, Via G. Colombo 3, 30131 Padova, Italy
Abstract: α-Synuclein (α-syn) is an 140 amino acid protein, which physiological function has yet to be clarified. It is involved in several neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson's disease (PD), and the interaction of the protein with brain lipids plays an important role in the pathogenesis of PD. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are highly abundant in the brain where they play critical roles in neuronal membrane fluidity and permeability, serve as energy reserves, and function as second messengers in cell signalling. PUFA concentration and composition in the brain are altered with age when also an increase of lipid peroxidation is observed. Considering that PD is clearly correlated with oxidative stress, PUFA abundance and composition became of great interest in neurodegeneration studies because of PUFA high propensity to oxidize. The high levels of the PUFA docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in brain areas containing α-syn inclusions in patients with PD further support the hypothesis of possible interactions between α-syn and PUFA. Additionally, a possible functional role of α-syn in sequestering the early peroxidation products of fatty acids was recently proposed. Here, we provide an overview of the current knowledge regarding the molecular interactions between α-syn and fatty acids and the effect exerted by the protein on their oxidative state. We highlight recent findings supporting a neuroprotective role of the protein, linking α-syn, altered lipid composition in neurodegenerative disorders and PD development.

Title: The role of fatty acids in milk fat and the selected effects on them
Authors: Oto Hanuš, Eva Samková and Ludmila Křížová
Abstract: Fatty acids (FAs) of milk fat, as important natural organic molecules, are considered to be an important nutritional component of a significant part of the human population. According to scientific knowledge, they can also affect human health. With regard to dairy farming, the FAs also perceived as an important factor in the technological quality of raw milk with the potential to make a significant contribution to the production of dairy products with higher added value. The FAs also have economic significance. The current development of analytical methods and their increasing efficiency and capacity enables the study of the FAs profile of fat molecules not only for scientific purposes but also in terms of practical technological applications. Therefore, this is important to study the sources of variability of FAs in milk fat and the possibilities of their positive influencing in fat by methods of population genetics, targeted animal nutrition and so on. It is equally important to study FAs health and technological impacts. This review conducted on this subject summarizes the structured key literary knowledge in this professional field according to the scheme, which divides the sources of FAs variability into biological and external. There are mentioned knowledge about FAs biosynthesis and biohydrogenation and impacts of factors such as: 1) genetic parameters (influence of the breed), animal individuality, lactation, milk yield; 2) season, way of animal farming (conventional and organic), animal nutrition. There are also lessons learned about ways of practice application of the information about FAs profiles of fat molecules and possibilities of expected benefits regarding food technology and consumer health.






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