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Additional recommended knowledge
In chemical structure, arachidonic acid is a carboxylic acid with a 20-carbon chain and four cis double bonds; the first double bond is located at the sixth carbon from the omega end.
Some chemistry sources define 'arachidonic acid' to designate any of the eicosatetraenoic acids. However, almost all writings in biology, medicine and nutrition limit the term to all-cis 5,8,11,14-eicosatetraenoic acid.
Arachidonic acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid that is present in the phospholipids (especially phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylinositides) of membranes of the body's cells, and is abundant in the brain.
It is also involved in cellular signaling as a second messenger.
It is the source of several other molecules with specific roles, as described in the next section.
Synthesis and cascade
Arachidonic acid is a precursor in the production of eicosanoids:
The production of these derivatives and their action in the body are collectively known as the arachidonic acid cascade; see essential fatty acid interactions for more details.
Arachidonic acid as an essential fatty acid
Arachidonic acid is one of the essential fatty acids required by most mammals. Some mammals lack the ability to—or have a very limited capacity to—convert linoleic acid into arachidonic acid, making it an essential part of their diet. Since little or no arachidonic acid is found in plants, such animals are obligate carnivores; the cat is a common example.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Arachidonic_acid". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|