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Arachidonic acid

Structure of arachidonic acid
Arachidonic acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid with four cis double bonds, which are the sources of its flexibility and give it the capacity to react with molecular oxygen.

It is present in the membranes of the body's cells, and is a precursor in the production of eicosanoids: the prostaglandins, thromboxanes, prostacyclin and the leukotrienes.

Arachidonic acid is one of the essential fatty acids required by most mammals. Some mammals lack the ability to—or have a very limited capacity to—convert linoleic acid into arachidonic acid, making it an essential part of their diet. Since little or no arachidonic acid is found in plants, such animals are obligatory predators; the cat is a common example.

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Last updated: 10-15-2005 14:01:24
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