Ethyl arachidonate is the predominant fatty acid ethyl ester in the brains of alcohol-intoxicated subjects at autopsy.

PMID 12784867


The role of fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEE), the nonoxidative ethanol metabolites, as mediators of alcohol-induced organ damage is increasingly being recognized. FAEE are detectable in the blood and in liver and adipose tissue after ethanol ingestion, and on that basis, FAEE can be used as markers of ethanol intake. In this study, 10 samples of human brain were collected at autopsy at the Massachusetts Medical Examiner's Office and analyzed for FAEE. FAEE were isolated and quantified as mass per gram of wet weight. The blood ethanol level was also obtained in each case along with the other drugs detected in routine postmortem toxicology screening tests. Ethyl arachidonate was the predominant FAEE species in the brain, representing up to 77.4% of total FAEE in the brain. The percent age of ethyl arachidonate of the total FAEE in the brain was significantly higher than what has been found in all other organs and tissues previously analyzed. Linoleate, the precursor of arachidonate, was a poor substrate for FAEE synthesis, as the percentage of ethyl linoleate of the total FAEE content was extremely low. Thus, this reflects preferred incorporation of arachidonate into newly synthesized FAEE in the brain. Since arachidonate is derived from linoleate, which is depleted in FAEE while arachidonate is enriched, the synthesis of FAEE may be linked to the desaturation and elongation of linoleate to arachidonate.

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