icosanoic acid, eicosanoic acid, arachidinic acid, arachic acid
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Arachidic acid, or arachic acid, is a very long-chain saturated fatty acid (VLCSFA). VLCSFAs, such as arachidic acid, behenic acid, and lignoceric acid, contain aliphatic, long fatty acid chains (the aliphatic tail) of 20, 22, and 24 carbon atoms, respectively. Arachidic acid is a minor constituent of peanuts, macadamia nuts, cocoa butter, corn oil, canola oil, and peanut oil, with its name deriving from the Latin arachis, meaning peanut. Although it is used in the production of detergents, photographic materials, and lubricants, a growing body of research suggests arachidic acid has key properties in supporting human health and reducing the risk for a variety of diseases.
Arachidic Acid and Cardiovascular Diseases
Because arachidic acid is found in a variety of nuts and oils, several studies have analyzed the impact of arachidic acid in the diet on human health. Research has shown that intake of peanuts and macadamia nuts increase VLCSFAs both in the membrane of erythrocytes (red blood cells) and systemically and are associated with a decreased risk of incident sudden cardiac arrest1. Additional research has demonstrated that increased levels of circulating arachidic acid and other VLCSFAs are associated with a lower risk of heart failure, abnormal heart rhythm, coronary heart disease, and sudden cardiac arrest2,3. Arachidic acid and other VLSFAs may therefore act as biomarkers for cardiovascular system health. Additionally, arachidic acid is a precursor to eicosanoids, long-chain fatty acids that possess anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties, which can help protect against cardiovascular diseases.
Arachidic Acid and Diabetes
Several studies have found that elevated levels of arachidic acid in erythrocytes and systemically are also associated with a lower risk for type 2 diabetes4, which significantly raises a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease. However, the mechanistic details of this association are at present not well understood, and more research is needed.
Arachidic Acid and Neurological Health
Recent studies have shown that arachidic acid is a fatty acid component of phosphatidylglucoside (PtdGlc). This phospholipid is found in the plasma membrane of neutrophils and is an enriched lipid in the brain. It is thought to be involved in cell-cell interactions, central nervous system signaling, and brain development. Dietary intake of the lipid PtdGlc has been associated with decreased cognitive deficits and hippocampal neuroinflammation4, and more research is being done to further elucidate the relationship between this compound and human health and disease.
The Impact of Lifestyle Factors on Circulating Arachidic Acid and Other VLCSFAs
Given the connection between circulating VLCSFA levels and cardiometabolic health, researchers have suggested that diet and other lifestyle factors may be leveraged to positively impact VLCSFA levels. A recent systemic review5 identified several important associations. Total fat and peanut intake were associated with consistently higher levels of circulating VLCSFAs; conversely, alcohol consumption had a negative impact. Physical activity also increased VLCSFAs levels, although not to the same extent as diet. While the mechanistic link is not clear, these studies suggest that generally healthier lifestyle habits may improve cardiometabolic health by increasing the circulating levels of VLCSFAs, including arachidic acid.
Metabolon’s Fatty Acids Metabolism Targeted Panel
Metabolon’s Fatty Acids Metabolism Targeted Panel measures organic compounds such as VLSFAs, including arachidic acid. Metabolon has created a suite of tools built from decades of experience across thousands of metabolomics studies to help you understand the crucial role of fatty acids and their derivatives in disorders and pathways. Contact us today to learn more about our Fatty Acids Metabolism Targeted Panel and how Metabolon can help you advance your research.
- Lemaitre RN, King IB, Rice K et al. Erythrocyte very long-chain saturated fatty acids associated with lower risk of incident sudden cardiac arrest. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2014; 91(4):149-53.
- Lemaitre RN, McKnight B, Sotoodehnia N et al. Circulating Very Long-Chain Saturated Fatty Acids and Heart Failure: The Cardiovascular Health Study. J Am Heart Assoc. 2018;7(21):e010019.
- Fretts AM, Mozaffarian D, Siscovick DS et al. Plasma phospholipid saturated fatty acids and incident atrial fibrillation: the Cardiovascular Health Study. J Am Heart Assoc. 2014;26;3(3):e000889.
- Liu Y, Liu J, Cong P et al. Exogenous phosphatidylglucoside alleviates cognitive impairment by improvement of neuroinflammation, and neurotrophin signaling. Clin Transl Med. 2021;11(3):e332.
- Lai KZH, Yehia NA, Semnani-Azad Z et al. Lifestyle Factors Associated with Circulating Very Long-Chain Saturated Fatty Acids in Humans: A Systematic Review of Observational Studies. Adv Nutr. 2023;14(1):99-114.