During feeding experiments with [ω-14C]oleic acid and [ω-14c]nervonic acid to adult rats, 14C-labelled C26, C28 and C30 fatty acids were recovered from the intestinal mucosa, liver, plasma, kidney and stools. The structures of these fatty acids were determined by g.l.c., radio-g.l.c. and mass spectrometry. The Schmidt and Ginger degradation methods indicated that most of the 14C found in these extra-long fatty acids remained in the omega position. These radioactive extra-long fatty acids were found mainly in the polar lipids of rats killed 3 or 15 h after being fed on labelled oleic acid or nervonic acid. Rats killed 63 h later yielded only traces of these extra-long fatty acids. When the rats were given antibiotics or received the same radioactive fatty acids by intravenous injection, the labelled extra-long fatty acids could not be detected in any of the tissues. We conclude that they were probably synthesized by elongation of oleic acid and nervonic acid by intestinal micro-organisms (probably yeasts) and then absorbed by the intestinal mucosa.

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