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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2000 Jun;55(6):B286-91.

Low fatty acid unsaturation: a mechanism for lowered lipoperoxidative modification of tissue proteins in mammalian species with long life spans.

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Department of Basic Medical Science, University of Lleida, Spain.


Carbonyl compounds generated by the nonenzymatic oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids react with nucleophilic groups in proteins, leading to their modification. It has not been tested whether fatty acid unsaturation is related to steady-state levels of lipoxidation-derived protein modification in vivo. A low fatty acid unsaturation, hence a low protein lipoxidation, in tissues of longevous animals would be consistent with the free radical theory of aging, because membrane lipids increase their sensitivity to oxidative damage as a function of their degree of unsaturation. To evaluate the relationship between fatty acid composition, protein lipoxidation, and maximum life span (MLSP), we analyzed liver fatty acids and proteins from seven mammalian species, ranging in MLSP from 3.5 to 46 years. The results show that the peroxidizability index of fatty acids and the sensitivity to in vitro lipid peroxidation are negatively correlated with the MLSP. Based on gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy analyses, liver proteins of all these species contain malondialdehyde-lysine and Nepsilon-carboxymethyllysine adducts, two biomarkers of protein lipoxidation. The steady-state levels of malondialdehyde-lysine and Nepsilon-carboxymethyl lysine are directly related to the peroxidizability index and inversely related to the MLSP. We propose that a low degree of fatty acid unsaturation may have been selected in longevous mammals to protect their tissue lipids and proteins against oxidative damage while maintaining an appropriate environment for membrane function.

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