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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Metabolism of phytol to phytanic acid in the mouse, and the role of PPAR{alpha} in its regulation.

Phytol, a branched-chain fatty alcohol, is the naturally occurring precursor of phytanic and pristanic acid, branched-chain fatty acids that are both ligands for the nuclear hormone receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARalpha). To investigate the metabolism of phytol and the role of PPARalpha in its regulation, wild-type and PPARalpha knockout (PPARalpha(-/-)) mice were fed a phytol-enriched diet or, for comparison, a diet enriched with Wy-14,643, a synthetic PPARalpha agonist. After the phytol-enriched diet, phytol could only be detected in small intestine, the site of uptake, and liver. Upon longer duration of the diet, the level of the (E)-isomer of phytol increased significantly in the liver of PPARalpha(-/-) mice compared with wild-type mice. Activity measurements of the enzymes involved in phytol metabolism showed that treatment with a PPARalpha agonist resulted in a PPARalpha-dependent induction of at least two steps of the phytol degradation pathway in liver. Furthermore, the enzymes involved showed a higher activity toward the (E)-isomer than the (Z)-isomer of their respective substrates, indicating a stereospecificity toward the metabolism of (E)-phytol. In conclusion, the results described here show that the conversion of phytol to phytanic acid is regulated via PPARalpha and is specific for the breakdown of (E)-phytol.[1]


  1. Metabolism of phytol to phytanic acid in the mouse, and the role of PPAR{alpha} in its regulation. Gloerich, J., van den Brink, D.M., Ruiter, J.P., van Vlies, N., Vaz, F.M., Wanders, R.J., Ferdinandusse, S. J. Lipid Res. (2007) [Pubmed]
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