Carbon recycling into de novo lipogenesis is a major pathway in neonatal metabolism of linoleate and α-linolenate

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      Recent reports indicate that recycling of the β-oxidized carbon skeleton of linoleate and α-linolenate into newly synthesized cholesterol and fatty acids in the brain is quantitatively significant in both suckling rats and pre- and postnatally in rhesus monkeys. The recycling appears to occur via ketones which are not only readily produced from these 18 carbon polyunsaturates but are also the main lipogenic precursors for the developing mammalian brain. Since the neonatal rat brain appears not to acquire cholesterol or long chain saturated or monounsaturated fatty acids from the circulation, ketones and ketogenic precursors seem to be crucial for normal brain synthesis of these lipids. Cholesterol is plentiful in brain membranes and it has also been discovered to be the essential lipid adduct of the ‘hedgehog’ family of proteins, the appropriate expression of which determines normal embryonic tissue patterning and neurological development. Insufficient cholesterol or inappropriate expression of ‘sonic hedgehog’ has major adverse neurodevelopmental consequences typified in humans by Smith-Lemli-Optiz syndrome. Hence, we propose that the importance of α-linolenate and linoleate for normal neural development arises not only from being precursors to longer chain polyunsaturates incorporated into neuronal membranes but, perhaps equally importantly, by being ketogenic precursors needed for in situ brain lipid synthesis.
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