Table 1.

Some fatty acyl chains found in membrane bilayers of animal cells

Common nameSystematic name *Abbreviation
Saturates
MystyricTetradecanoic14:0
PalmiticHexadecanoic16:0
StearicOctadecanoic18:0
ArachidicEicosadecanoic20:0
Unsaturates
Monounsaturates
Palmitoleiccis-9-hexadecenoic16:1 n-7
Vacceniccis-11-octadecenoic18:1 n-7
Oleiccis-9-octadecenoic18:1 n-9
Polyunsaturates
Omega-6
α-Linoleiccis,cis-9,12-octadecadienoic18:2 n-6
γ-LinolenicAll-cis-6,9,12-octadecatrienoic18:3 n-6
All-cis-8,11,14-eicosatrienoic20:3 n-6
ArachidonicAll-cis-5,8,11,14-eicosatetraenoic20:4 n-6
All-cis-4,7,10,13,16-eicosapentaenoic22:5 n-6
Omega-3
α-linolenicAll-cis-9,12,15-octadecatrienoic18:3 n-3
All-cis-11,14,17-eicosatrienoic20:3 n-3
EPAAll-cis-5,8,11,14,17-eicosapentaenoic20:5 n-3
DHAAll-cis-4,7,10,13,16,19-docosahexaenoic22:6 n-3
  • EPA, eicosapentaenoic acid; DHA, docosahexaenoic acid.

  • * Numbers indicate the positions of double bonds numbered from the carboxylic end (see Fig. 1).

  • The number preceding the colon indicates the number of carbon atoms; the number following the colon indicates the number of double bonds; the position of the double bond nearest the methyl end is given by the designation `n (total number of carbon atoms) minus the number of carbon atoms from the end of the chain'.