The kinetics of the autoxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids

Lipids. 1987 May;22(5):299-304. doi: 10.1007/BF02533996.


The kinetics of the autoxidation of a series of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) with increasing degrees of unsaturation and the mono-, di- and triglycerides of linoleate have been studied in homogeneous chlorobenzene solution at 37 C under 760 torr of oxygen. The autoxidations were initiated by thermal decomposition of azo initiators and followed by measuring the rate of oxygen uptake. The rate of chain initiation was determined by the induction period method using alpha-tocopherol as the chain-breaking antioxidant. The measured oxidizabilities of the PUFA are linearly dependent on the number of doubly allylic positions present in the molecule. Thus, the oxidizability of linoleate is 2.03 X 10(-2) M-1/2 sec-1/2, and the value for docosahexaenoate is five times greater, 10.15 X 10(-2) M-1/2 sec-1/2. The rate of autoxidation for all PUFA studied and for the mono- and diglyceride is proportional to the substrate concentration and to the square root of the rate of chain initiation, implying that the autoxidation of these compounds follows the usual kinetic rate law. The autoxidation of the triglyceride is more complex and does not appear to follow the same rate law at all substrate concentrations. This deviation from the usual kinetic rate expression may be due to lipid aggregation at low concentrations of the triglyceride.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Mathematics
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Triglycerides / metabolism
  • Vitamin E / metabolism


  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Triglycerides
  • Vitamin E