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J Biol Chem. 1991 Dec 5;266(34):22932-8.

Quantitation of acyl-CoA and acylcarnitine esters accumulated during abnormal mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation.

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  • 1Division of Clinical Neurosciences, Medical School, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.


We have used radio-high pressure liquid chromatography to study the acyl-CoA ester intermediates and the acylcarnitines formed during mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation. During oxidation of [U-14C]hexadecanoate by normal human fibroblast mitochondria, only the saturated acyl-CoA and acylcarnitine esters can be detected, supporting the concept that the acyl-CoA dehydrogenase step is rate-limiting in mitochondrial beta-oxidation. Incubations of fibroblast mitochondria from patients with defects of beta-oxidation show an entirely different profile of intermediates. Mitochondria from patients with defects in electron transfer flavoprotein and electron transfer flavoprotein:ubiquinone oxido-reductase are associated with slow flux through beta-oxidation and accumulation of long chain acyl-CoA and acylcarnitine esters. Increased amounts of saturated medium chain acyl-CoA and acylcarnitine esters are detected in the incubations of mitochondria with medium chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency, whereas long chain 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency is associated with accumulation of long chain 3-hydroxyacyl- and 2-enoyl-CoA and carnitine esters. These studies show that the control strength at the site of the defective enzyme has increased. Radio-high pressure liquid chromatography analysis of intermediates of mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation is an important new technique to study the control, organization and defects of the enzymes of beta-oxidation.

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