Vitamin B-6 restriction impairs fatty acid synthesis in cultured human hepatoma (HepG2) cells

Mei Zhao, Maria A. Ralat, Vanessa da Silva, Timothy J. Garrett, Stephan Melnyk, S. Jill James, Jesse F. Gregory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Vitamin B-6 deficiency has been reported to alter n-6 and n-3 fatty acid profiles in plasma and tissue lipids; however, the mechanisms underlying such metabolic changes remain unclear. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of vitamin B-6 restriction on fatty acid profiles and fatty acid synthesis in HepG2 cells. Cells were cultured for 6 wk in media with four different vitamin B-6 concentrations (10, 20, 50, and 2,000 nM added pyridoxal, representing deficient, marginal, adequate, and supraphysiological conditions) that induced a range of steady-state cellular concentrations of pyridoxal phosphate. Total cellular lipid content was greatest in the deficient (10 nM pyridoxal) medium. The percentage of arachidonic acid and the ratio of arachidonic acid to linoleic acid in the total lipid fraction were ~15% lower in vitamin B-6-restricted cells, which suggests that vitamin B-6 restriction affects n-6 fatty acid interconversions. Metabolic flux studies indicated significantly lower fractional synthesis rate of oleic acid and arachidonic acid at 10, 20, and 50 nM pyridoxal, whereas that of eicosapentaenoic acid was lower in the cells cultured in 10 nM pyridoxal. Additionally, relative mRNA expressions of δ5 and δ6 desaturases were 40-50% lower in vitamin B-6-restricted cells. Overall, these findings suggest that vitamin B-6 restriction alters unsaturated fatty acid synthesis, particularly n-6 and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid synthesis. These results and observations of changes in human plasma fatty acid profiles caused by vitamin B-6 restriction suggest a mechanism by which vitamin B-6 inadequacy influences the cardiovascular risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E342-E351
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2013


  • Fatty acid profiles
  • Human hepatoma cells
  • Stable isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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