Glucose-stimulated acrolein production from unsaturated fatty acids

Hum Exp Toxicol. 2004 Feb;23(2):101-5. doi: 10.1191/0960327104ht416oa.


Glucose auto-oxidation may be a significant source of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and also be important in the lipid peroxidation process, accompanied by the release of toxic reactive products. We wanted to demonstrate that acrolein can be formed directly and actively from free fatty acids in a hyperglycemic environment. A suspension of linoleic and arachidonic acids (2.5 mM) was exposed to different glucose concentrations (5, 10 and 15 mmol/L) in vitro. The samples were extracted with organic solvents, partitioned, followed at 255-267 nm, and analysed using capillary electrophoresis and mass spectroscopy. The total release of aldehydes significantly (P < 0.01) increased from 1.0 to 5.1, 8.3 and 13.1 micromol/L after 6 hours of incubation, proportional to glucose concentrations. It was possible to verify a correlate hydroperoxide formation as well. Among the lipid peroxidation products, acrolein (5% of total) and its condensing product, 4-hydroxy-hexenal, were identified. From the results presented here, it was possible to demonstrate the production of acrolein, probably as a fatty acid product, due to free radicals generated from the glucose auto-oxidation process. The results led us to propose that acrolein, which is one of the most toxic aldehydes, is produced during hyperglycemic states, and may lead to tissue injury, as one of the initial problems to be linked to high levels of glucose in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acrolein / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / metabolism*
  • Glucose / pharmacology*
  • Lipid Peroxidation


  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Acrolein
  • Glucose