Branched-long-chain monomethyl fatty acids (BLCFA) are consumed daily in significant amounts by humans in all stages of life. BLCFA are absorbed and metabolized in human intestinal epithelial cells and are not only oxidized for energy. Thus far, BLCFA have been revealed to possess versatile beneficial bioactivities, including cytotoxicity to cancer cells, anti-inflammation, lipid-lowering, reducing the risk of metabolic disorders, maintaining normal β cell function and insulin sensitivity, regulation of development, and mitigating cerebral ischemia/reperfusion injury. However, compared to other well-studied dietary fatty acids like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), BLCFA has received disproportionate attention despite their potential importance. Here we outlined the major food sources, estimated intake, absorption, and metabolism in human cells, and bioactive properties of BLCFA with a focus on the bioactive mechanisms to advocate for an increased commitment to BLCFA investigations. Humans were estimated to absorb 6-5000 mg of dietary BLCFA daily from fetus to adult. Notably, iso-15:0 inhibited the growth of prostate cancer, liver cancer and T-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas in rodent models at the effective doses of 35-105 mg/kg/day, 70 mg/kg/day, and 70 mg/kg/day, respectively. Feeding formula prepared with 20% w/w BLCFA mixture to neonatal rats with enterocolitis mitigated the intestine inflammation. Iso-15:0 at doses of 10, 40, and 80 mg/kg relieved brain ischemia/reperfusion injury in rats. In the future, it is crucial to conduct research to establish the epidemiology of BLCFA intake and their impacts on health outcomes in humans as well as to fully uncover the underlying mechanisms for their bioactivities.
Keywords: biological activity; branched-chain fatty acids; dietary fats; mechanism.