Phospholipids

The common phospholipids in plasma are derived from glycerol and consist of triacylglycerol containing phosphate and a nitrogenous base (glyceropho-spholipids). The phosphate group is usually attached at position 3 of the glycerol molecule, and the nitrogenous base is usually an amino acid or an alcohol. The phosphatidyl cholines (lecithins) are the most common phospholipid and are found in plasma and in cell membranes. Lecithin-cholesterol acyl trans-ferase (LCAT) catalyzes the transfer of a fatty acyl group at position 2 on glycerol to cholesterol to produce cholesteryl ester and leaves monoacyl gly-cerophosphate (lysolecithin). Another class of phos-pholipids, the cephalins, includes phosphatidyl ethanolamine, phosphatidyl serine, and phosphati-dyl inositol.

Phospholipids are able to bridge nonpolar lipids and water and act to allow lipids to mix with water in an emulsion. The nonpolar hydrocarbon end of the phospholipid is attracted to lipid, whereas the polar phosphate group is attracted to water. In a lipid droplet, the inner oily centre is surrounded by phospholipid, which has its outer phosphate group attracted to the surrounding water environment, to form a micelle.

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