Disorders of mitochondrial fatty acyl-CoA beta-oxidation

J Inherit Metab Dis. 1999 Jun;22(4):442-87. doi: 10.1023/a:1005504223140.


In recent years tremendous progress has been made with respect to the enzymology of the mitochondrial fatty acid beta-oxidation machinery and defects therein. Firstly, a number of new mitochondrial beta-oxidation enzymes have been identified, including very-long-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (VLCAD) and mitochondrial trifunctional protein (MTP). Secondly, the introduction of tandem MS for the analysis of plasma acylcarnitines has greatly facilitated the identification of patients with a defect in fatty acid oxidation (FAO). These two developments explain why the number of defined FAO disorders has increased dramatically, making FAO disorders the most rapidly growing group of inborn errors of metabolism. In this review we describe the current state of knowledge of the enzymes involved in the mitochondrial oxidation of straight-chain, branched-chain and (poly)unsaturated fatty acyl-CoAs as well as disorders of fatty acid oxidation. The laboratory diagnosis of these disorders is described, with particular emphasis on the methods used to identify the underlying enzyme defect and the molecular mutations. In addition, a simple flowchart is presented as a guide to the identification of mitochondrial FAO-disorders. Finally, treatment strategies are discussed briefly.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acyl Coenzyme A / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / diagnosis
  • Lipid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / enzymology*
  • Lipid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / enzymology*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Prenatal Diagnosis


  • Acyl Coenzyme A
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated