Feodor Lynen discovered mechanism & regulation of cholesterol& fatty acid metabolism

Feodor Lynen – discoverer of biosynthesis of cholesterol

Article on Feodor Lynen

Biography & Contributions

Feodor Lynen [Feodor Felix Konrad Lynen] was a German biochemist and Nobel laureate born on April 06, 1911 – died on August 06, 1979. Lynen studied how cells produce fatty substances like cholesterol and lipids. Lynen's experiments revealed the roles of certain enzymes [which are molecules that speed up chemical reactions] and the vitamin biotin in the formation of lipids. For this work, Lynen was awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, which he shared with a German-born American biochemist named Konrad Emil Bloch.

Lynen's most important research at the University of Munich focused on intermediary metabolism, cholesterol synthesis, and fatty acid biosynthesis. Metabolism involves all the chemical processes by which an organism converts matter and energy into forms that it can use. Metabolism supplies the matter-the molecular building blocks an organism needs for the growth of new tissues. These building blocks must either come from the breakdown of molecules of food, such as glucose and fat, or be built up from simpler molecules within the organism.


Cholesterol is a type of lipid, one of the classes of chemical compounds essential to human health. It makes up an important part of the membranes of each cell in the body. The body also uses cholesterol to produce vitamin D and certain hormones. Cholesterol is one of the fatty substances found in animal tissues. The human body produces cholesterol, but this substance also enters the body in food. Meats, egg yolks, and milk products, such as butter and cheese, contain cholesterol. Such organs as the brain and liver contain much cholesterol.

Lynen discovered that the active form of acetate is a coenzyme, a heat-stabilized, water-soluble portion of an enzyme, called acetyl coenzyme A. Lynen and his colleagues demonstrated that the formation of cholesterol begins with the condensation of two molecules of acetyl coenzyme A to form acetoacetyl coenzyme A, a four-carbon molecule.

Lynen also clarified the function of biotin, a growth vitamin of the B complex. He researched the functions in the human body of biotin. Lynen's research revealed that biotin is important in the production of fat and other vital body substances.

Fatty Acid Metabolism

Fatty acid metabolism consists of catabolic processes that generate energy and primary metabolites from fatty acids, and anabolic processes that create biologically important molecules from fatty acids and other dietary sources. Fatty acids are a family of molecules classified within the lipid macronutrient class. One of their roles within animal metabolism is energy production in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) synthesis.

Fatty acids are usually ingested as triglycerides, which cannot be absorbed by the intestine. They are broken down into free fatty acids and monoglycerides by pancreatic lipase, which forms a 1:1 complex with a protein called colipase, which is necessary for its activity. The activated complex can work only at a water-fat interface.

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