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Annu Rev Nutr. 2002;22:383-415. Epub 2002 Apr 4.

Fatty acid transport across membranes: relevance to nutrition and metabolic pathology.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York, 11794-8661, USA.


Long-chain fatty acids are an important constituent of the diet and they contribute to a multitude of cellular pathways and functions. Uptake of long-chain fatty acids across plasma membranes is the first step in fatty acid utilization, and recent evidence supports an important regulatory role for this process. Although uptake of fatty acids involves two components, passive diffusion through the lipid bilayer and protein-facilitated transfer, the latter component appears to play the major role in mediating uptake by key tissues. Identification of several proteins as fatty acid transporters, and emerging evidence from genetically altered animal models for some of these proteins, has contributed significant insight towards understanding the limiting role of transport in the regulation of fatty acid utilization. We are also beginning to better appreciate how disturbances in fatty acid utilization influence general metabolism and contribute to metabolic pathology.

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