Journal of lipid research

Sjögren-Larsson syndrome: accumulation of free fatty alcohols in cultured fibroblasts and plasma.

PMID 10884288


Sjögren-Larsson syndrome (SLS) is an inherited disorder associated with deficient oxidation of long-chain aliphatic alcohols. Previous studies have reported modest elevations in total (free + esterified) fatty alcohols in SLS, but free fatty alcohols have not been selectively measured, in part because of their low concentrations in most tissues and the presence of trace fatty alcohol contaminants in some solvents used for their analysis. We adapted methods to measure free fatty alcohols in cultured cells and plasma that minimize exogenous alcohol contamination. Fatty alcohols were analyzed as acetate derivatives, using capillary column gas chromatography. By this method, cultured skin fibroblasts from SLS patients were found to have 7- and 8-fold elevations in the mean content of hexadecanol (16:0-OH) and octadecanol (18:0-OH), respectively. The mean plasma 16:0-OH and 18:0-OH concentrations in SLS patients (n = 11) were 9- and 22-fold higher than in normal controls, respectively. In SLS fibroblasts, most of the fatty alcohol (59%) that accumulated was free rather than esterified alcohol, whereas free alcohol accounted for 23% of the total alcohol in normal cells. These results indicate that elevations in free fatty alcohols provide a sensitive marker for the enzymatic defect in SLS. The ability to measure free fatty alcohols in cultured cells and plasma should prove useful for investigations of normal fatty alcohol metabolism and the deranged metabolism in SLS.