Diet-derived and diet-related endogenously produced palmitic acid: Effects on metabolic regulation and cardiovascular disease risk

Carmen E. Annevelink, Philip A. Sapp, Kristina S. Petersen, Greg C. Shearer, Penny M. Kris-Etherton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Palmitic acid is the predominant dietary saturated fatty acid (SFA) in the US diet. Plasma palmitic acid is derived from dietary fat and also endogenously from de novo lipogenesis (DNL) and lipolysis. DNL is affected by excess energy intake resulting in overweight and obesity, and the macronutrient profile of the diet. A low-fat diet (higher carbohydrate and/or protein) promotes palmitic acid synthesis in adipocytes and the liver. A high-fat diet is another source of palmitic acid that is taken up by adipose tissue, liver, heart and skeletal muscle via lipolytic mechanisms. Moreover, overweight/obesity and accompanying insulin resistance increase non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) production. Palmitic acid may affect cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk via mechanisms beyond increasing low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C), notably synthesis of ceramides and possibly through branched fatty acid esters of hydroxy fatty acids (FAHFAs) from palmitic acid. Ceramides are positively associated with incident CVD, whereas the role of FAHFAs is uncertain. Given the new evidence about dietary regulation of palmitic acid metabolism there is interest in learning more about how diet modulates circulating palmitic acid concentrations and, hence, potentially CVD risk. This is important because of the heightened interest in low carbohydrate (carbohydrate controlled) and high carbohydrate (low-fat) diets coupled with the ongoing overweight/obesity epidemic, all of which can increase plasma palmitic acid levels by different mechanisms. Consequently, learning more about palmitic acid biochemistry, trafficking and how its metabolites affect CVD risk will inform future dietary guidance to further lower the burden of CVD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-586
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Lipidology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2023


  • CVD risk
  • Ceramides
  • Diet-derived
  • Endogenous synthesis
  • FAHFAs
  • Palmitic acid


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