Differential distribution and metabolism of arachidonic acid and docosahexaenoic acid by human placental choriocarcinoma (BeWo) cells

J T Crabtree, Margaret Jane Gordon, Fiona Margaret Campbell, Asim K Dutta-Roy

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39 Citations (Scopus)


The time course of incorporation of [C-14]arachidonic acid and [H-3]docosahexaenoic acid into various lipid fractions in placental choriocarcinoma (BeWo) cells was investigated. BeWo cells were found to rapidly incorporate exogenous [C-14]arachidonic acid and [H-3] docosahexaenoic acid into the total cellular lipid pool. The extent of docosahexaenoic acid esterification was more rapid than for arachidonic acid, although this difference abated with time to leave only a small percentage of the fatty acids in their unesterified form. Furthermore, uptake was found to be saturable. In the cellular lipids these fatty acids were mainly esterified into the phospholipid (PL) and the triacyglycerol (TAG) fractions. Smaller amounts were also detected in the diacylglycerol and cholesterol ester fractions. Almost 60% of the total amount of [H-3]Docosahexaenoic acid taken up by the cells was esterified into TAG whereas 37% was in PL fractions. For arachidonic acid the reverse was true, 60% of the total uptake was incorporated into PL fractions whereas less than 35% was in TAG. Marked differences were also found in the distribution of the fatty acids into individual phospholipid classes. The higher incorporation of docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid was found in PC and PE, respectively. The greater cellular uptake of docosahexaenoic acid and its preferential incorporation in TAG suggests that both uptake and transport modes of this fatty acid by the placenta to fetus is different from that of arachidonic acid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-198
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular & Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1998


  • fatty acid uptake
  • metabolism
  • placenta
  • BeWo cells
  • long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • arachidonic acid
  • docosahexaenoic acid
  • FABP(pm)
  • fatty acid-binding protein
  • fatty acid-binding protein
  • binding protein FABP(PM)
  • fatty-acid
  • transport
  • brain
  • erythrocytes
  • requirements
  • membranes


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