Fatty acid anilides: In vivo formation and relevance to toxic oil syndrome

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Toxic oil syndrome (TOS), a multisystemic epidemic outbreak in 1981 in Spain, was caused by the ingestion of a cooking oil mixture containing rapeseed oil denatured with aniline. The mechanisms and causative agents responsible for the TOS are still not known. Although primary lesions observed in TOS patients could not be reproduced experimentally, the levels of fatty acid anilidcs (FAAs) and aniline in TOS-related cooking oil were considered proximate markers of TOS. Aniline, available from free aniline and FAAs ingested with TOS-related cooking oil, and its reconjugation with endogenous fatty acids could be an early event leading to TOS. Therefore, the present study was undertaken to determine the formation of FAAs following an oral dose of 2 mmol/kg aniline hydrochloride (AH) via gavage in rats. Here, 16:0, 18:0, 18:1, 18:2, 18:3, and 20:4 FAAs were analyzed in the whole blood, brown fat, liver, and pancreas at 0 (control), 0.25, 0.5, 1, 3, 6, 12, 24, and 48 hours. Generally, 16:0 and 18:1 FAAs were detected in the whole blood, brown fat, and liver of AH-treated rats with highest mean levels at 0.25 or 0.5 hour, except 3 hours for the whole blood. Only 16:0 FAA was detectable in the pancreas of AH-treated animals. The 18:0 FAA was also detected frequently in the liver while other FAAs were either in trace amounts or not detectable in the tissues analyzed in the present study. Overall, highest formation of the 16:0 FAA was found in the liver followed by pancreas and of 18:1 FAA in the whole blood and brown fat. These results indicate a rapid formation and further metabolism and disposition of FAAs in rat model and support our previous findings that 18:1 and 16:0 fatty acids are better substrates for the conjugation with aniline. Surprisingly, a small or trace amount of a few FAAs also detected in the tissues of control rats indicates their endogenous biosynthesis and/or pres-ence. Results of 18:1 fatty acid incubation and aniline in the presence of fatty acid ethyl ester synthase, purified to homogeneity from rat liver microsome, suggest that formation of FAAs is catalyzed by an enzyme involved in the conjugation of fatty acids with xenobiotic alcohols. Because the FAAs are known to exert a wide range of toxicity in experimental animals and primary cell cultures, in vivo formation of FAAs could be an early event leading to TOS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-277
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1999


  • Aniline
  • Fatty Acid Anilides
  • Fatty Acid Ethyl Ester Synthase
  • Toxic Oil Syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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