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Annu Rev Nutr. 2001;21:193-230.

Peroxisomal beta-oxidation and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha: an adaptive metabolic system.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA.


beta-Oxidation occurs in both mitochondria and peroxisomes. Mitochondria catalyze the beta-oxidation of the bulk of short-, medium-, and long-chain fatty acids derived from diet, and this pathway constitutes the major process by which fatty acids are oxidized to generate energy. Peroxisomes are involved in the beta-oxidation chain shortening of long-chain and very-long-chain fatty acyl-coenzyme (CoAs), long-chain dicarboxylyl-CoAs, the CoA esters of eicosanoids, 2-methyl-branched fatty acyl-CoAs, and the CoA esters of the bile acid intermediates di- and trihydroxycoprostanoic acids, and in the process they generate H2O2. Long-chain and very-long-chain fatty acids (VLCFAs) are also metabolized by the cytochrome P450 CYP4A omega-oxidation system to dicarboxylic acids that serve as substrates for peroxisomal beta-oxidation. The peroxisomal beta-oxidation system consists of (a) a classical peroxisome proliferator-inducible pathway capable of catalyzing straight-chain acyl-CoAs by fatty acyl-CoA oxidase, L-bifunctional protein, and thiolase, and (b) a second noninducible pathway catalyzing the oxidation of 2-methyl-branched fatty acyl-CoAs by branched-chain acyl-CoA oxidase (pristanoyl-CoA oxidase/trihydroxycoprostanoyl-CoA oxidase), D-bifunctional protein, and sterol carrier protein (SCP)x. The genes encoding the classical beta-oxidation pathway in liver are transcriptionally regulated by peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPAR alpha). Evidence derived from mice deficient in PPAR alpha, peroxisomal fatty acyl-CoA oxidase, and some of the other enzymes of the two peroxisomal beta-oxidation pathways points to the critical importance of PPAR alpha and of the classical peroxisomal fatty acyl-CoA oxidase in energy metabolism, and in the development of hepatic steatosis, steatohepatitis, and liver cancer.

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