Emerging roles for riboflavin in functional rescue of mitochondrial β-oxidation flavoenzymes

Curr Med Chem. 2010;17(32):3842-54. doi: 10.2174/092986710793205462.


Riboflavin, commonly known as vitamin B2, is the precursor of flavin cofactors. It is present in our typical diet, and inside the cells it is metabolized to FMN and FAD. As a result of their rather unique and flexible chemical properties these flavins are among the most important redox cofactors present in a large series of different enzymes. A problem in riboflavin metabolism or a low intake of this vitamin will have consequences on the level of FAD and FMN in the cell, resulting in disorders associated with riboflavin deficiency. In a few number of cases, riboflavin deficiency is associated with impaired oxidative folding, cell damage and impaired heme biosynthesis. More relevant are several studies referring reduced activity of enzymes such as dehydrogenases involved in oxidative reactions, respiratory complexes and enzymes from the fatty acid β-oxidation pathway. The role of this vitamin in mitochondrial metabolism, and in particular in fatty acid oxidation, will be discussed in this review. The basic aspects concerning riboflavin and flavin metabolism and deficiency will be addressed, as well as an overview of the role of the different flavoenzymes and flavin chemistry in fatty acid β-oxidation, merging clinical, cellular and biochemical perspectives. A number of recent studies shedding new light on the cellular processes and biological effects of riboflavin supplementation in metabolic disease will also be overviewed. Overall, a deeper understanding of these emerging roles of riboflavin intake is essential to design better therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carnitine Acyltransferases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Multiple Acyl Coenzyme A Dehydrogenase Deficiency / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-CH Group Donors / metabolism
  • Riboflavin / metabolism
  • Riboflavin / physiology*


  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-CH Group Donors
  • Carnitine Acyltransferases
  • Riboflavin