Unlike other saturated fatty acids, dietary stearic acid does not appear to raise plasma cholesterol. The reason for this remains to be established, although it appears that it must be related to inherent differences in the metabolism of the fatty acid. In the present study, we have looked at the metabolism of palmitic acid and stearic acid, in comparison with oleic acid, by cultured hamster hepatocytes. Stearic acid was taken up more slowly and was poorly incorporated into both cellular and secreted triacylglycerol. Despite this, stearic acid stimulated the synthesis and secretion of triacylglycerol to the same extent as the other fatty acids. Incorporation into cellular phospholipid was lower for oleic acid than for palmitic acid and stearic acid. Desaturation of stearic acid, to monounsaturated fatty acid, was found to be greater than that of palmitic acid. Oleic acid produced from stearic acid was incorporated into both triacylglycerol and phospholipid, representing 13% and 6% respectively of the total after a 4 h incubation. Significant proportions of all of the fatty acids were oxidized, primarily to form ketone bodies, but by 8 h more oleic acid had been oxidized compared with palmitic acid and stearic acid.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.