Very Long Chain Fatty Acids (VLCFA)

Very long-chain fatty acids (VLCFAs) are fatty acids with a chain length greater than twenty-two carbons long. VLFCAs are typically found in small amounts in mammalian tissue. VLCFAs differ in chain length, as well as location and number of double bonds in the chain. The accumulation of VLCFAs is associated with peroxisomal disorders such as adrenoleukodystrophy. In the case of adrenoleukodystrophy, there is an accumulation of VLCFAs in most of the body’s tissue, with the most severe accumulation being in the brain and adrenal glands.

VLCFAs with chain lengths greater than thirty carbon atoms are often referred to as ultra long-chain fatty acids (ULCFAs). These ULCFAs are formed as part of the elongation process in mammalian tissues. Control of the elongation process is a major function of peroxisomes. ULCFA 32:6n-3 has been found in ram and bull spermatozoa and 32:6n-6 has been found in human and rat brain tissues. A better understanding of these lipids and their physiological role is important for understanding peroxisomal diseases.

Poulos A. et al. (1992) Very Long-Chain Fatty Acids in Peroxisomal Disease. In: Bazan N.G., Murphy M.G., Toffano G. (eds) Neurobiology of Essential Fatty Acids. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, vol 318. Springer, Boston, MA.