In animals carotenoids show biological activity unrelated to vitamin A that has been considered to arise directly from the behavior of the parent compound, particularly as an antioxidant. However, the very property that confers antioxidant activity on some carotenoids in plants also confers susceptibility to oxidative transformation. As an alternative, it has been suggested that carotenoid oxidative breakdown or metabolic products could be the actual agents of activity in animals. However, an important and neglected aspect of the behavior of the highly unsaturated carotenoids is their potential to undergo addition of oxygen to form copolymers. Recently we reported that spontaneous oxidation of ß-carotene transforms it into a product dominated by ß-carotene-oxygen copolymers. We now report that the polymeric product is biologically active. Results suggest an overall ability to prime innate immune function to more rapidly respond to subsequent microbial challenges. An underlying structural resemblance to sporopollenin, found in the outer shell of spores and pollen, may allow the polymer to modulate innate immune responses through interactions with the pattern recognition receptor system. Oxygen copolymer formation appears common to all carotenoids, is anticipated to be widespread, and the products may contribute to the health benefits of carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables.
In selected mammalian tissues, long chain fatty acid transporters (FABPpm, FAT/CD36, FATP1, and FATP4) are co-expressed. There is controversy as to whether they all function as membrane-bound transporters and whether they channel fatty acids to oxidation and/or esterification. Among skeletal muscles, the protein expression of FABPpm, FAT/CD36, and FATP4, but not FATP1, correlated highly with the capacities for oxidative metabolism (r>or=0.94), fatty acid oxidation (r>or=0.88), and triacylglycerol esterification (r>or=0.87). We overexpressed independently FABPpm, FAT/CD36, FATP1, and FATP4, within a normal physiologic range, in rat skeletal muscle, to determine the effects on fatty acid transport and metabolism. Independent overexpression of each fatty acid transporter occurred without altering either the expression or plasmalemmal content of other fatty acid transporters. All transporters increased fatty acid transport, but FAT/CD36 and FATP4 were 2.3- and 1.7-fold more effective than FABPpm and FATP1, respectively. Fatty acid transporters failed to alter the rates of fatty acid esterification into triacylglycerols. In contrast, all transporters increased the rates of long chain fatty acid oxidation, but the effects of FABPpm and FAT/CD36 were 3-fold greater than for FATP1 and FATP4. Thus, fatty acid transporters exhibit different capacities for fatty acid transport and metabolism. In vivo, FAT/CD36 and FATP4 are the most effective fatty acid transporters, whereas FABPpm and FAT/CD36 are key for stimulating fatty acid oxidation.
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