A review of odd-chain fatty acid metabolism and the role of pentadecanoic Acid (c15:0) and heptadecanoic Acid (c17:0) in health and disease

Molecules. 2015 Jan 30;20(2):2425-44. doi: 10.3390/molecules20022425.


The role of C17:0 and C15:0 in human health has recently been reinforced following a number of important biological and nutritional observations. Historically, odd chain saturated fatty acids (OCS-FAs) were used as internal standards in GC-MS methods of total fatty acids and LC-MS methods of intact lipids, as it was thought their concentrations were insignificant in humans. However, it has been thought that increased consumption of dairy products has an association with an increase in blood plasma OCS-FAs. However, there is currently no direct evidence but rather a casual association through epidemiology studies. Furthermore, a number of studies on cardiometabolic diseases have shown that plasma concentrations of OCS-FAs are associated with lower disease risk, although the mechanism responsible for this is debated. One possible mechanism for the endogenous production of OCS-FAs is α-oxidation, involving the activation, then hydroxylation of the α-carbon, followed by the removal of the terminal carboxyl group. Differentiation human adipocytes showed a distinct increase in the concentration of OCS-FAs, which was possibly caused through α-oxidation. Further evidence for an endogenous pathway, is in human plasma, where the ratio of C15:0 to C17:0 is approximately 1:2 which is contradictory to the expected levels of C15:0 to C17:0 roughly 2:1 as detected in dairy fat. We review the literature on the dietary consumption of OCS-FAs and their potential endogenous metabolism.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Coronary Disease / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Fatty Acids
  • pentadecanoic acid
  • margaric acid