Increased elongase 6 and Δ9-desaturase activity are associated with n-7 and n-9 fatty acid changes in cystic fibrosis

Kelly F. Thomsen, Michael Laposata, Sarah W. Njoroge, Obi C. Umunakwe, Waddah Katrangi, Adam C. Seegmiller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Patients with cystic fibrosis, caused by mutations in CFTR, exhibit specific and consistent alterations in the levels of particular unsaturated fatty acids compared with healthy controls. Evidence suggests that these changes may play a role in the pathogenesis of this disease. Among these abnormalities are increases in the levels of n-7 and n-9 fatty acids, particularly palmitoleate (16:1n-7), oleate (18:1n-9), and eicosatrienoate or mead acid (20:3n-9). The underlying mechanisms of these particular changes are unknown, but similar changes in the n-3 and n-6 fatty acid families have been correlated with increased expression of fatty acid metabolic enzymes. This study demonstrated that cystic fibrosis cells in culture exhibit increased metabolism along the metabolic pathways leading to 16:1n-7, 18:1n-9, and 20:3n-9 compared with wild-type cells. Furthermore, these changes are accompanied by increased expression of the enzymes that produce these fatty acids, namely Δ5, Δ6, and Δ9 desaturases and elongases 5 and 6. Taken together, these findings suggest that fatty acid abnormalities of the n-7 and n-9 series in cystic fibrosis are as a result, at least in part, of increased expression and activity of these metabolic enzymes in CFTR-mutated cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)669-677
Number of pages9
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Desaturases
  • Elongases
  • Fatty acid metabolism
  • Gene expression
  • Monounsaturated fatty acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Cell Biology


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