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Lecture 2
Classification of lipids

Simple lipids
Complex lipids
Derived lipids
Classification of lipids
Simple lipid Complex lipid Derived lipid

Neutral fats or oils Phospholipids Steroids

waxes Glycolipids Cholesterol
Simple • They are esters of fatty acids (FA) with many alcohols.
Lipids • According to the type of alcohol, simple lipids are sub-classified

1-Neutral Alcohol is glycerol

fats or oils

Alcohol is other than

2-Waxes glycerol
Simple 1- Neutral
Lipids fats or oils

• They are neutral “uncharged” due to the absence of ionisable groups in it.
• They are the most abundant lipids in nature.
• They constitute about 98% of the lipids of adipose tissue, 30% of plasma or liver,
and less than 10 % of erythrocyte lipids.
• They are esters of glycerol with various fatty acids.
• The difference between fat and oil is only physical. Thus, oil is a liquid while fat is a
solid at room temperature.
>> This is mainly due to presence/absence of unsaturated fatty acids :
>> In general, oils “from plant origin” are high in unsaturated and low in saturated fatty acids. Fats
“from animal sources” are high in saturated and low in unsaturated fatty acids.
Simple 1- Neutral
Lipids fats or oils

Neutral fats or oil Structures:

• They are esters of glycerol (with 3-OH groups) with various fatty acids.
 Esterification of glycerol with one molecule of fatty acid gives monoglyceride,
 Esterification of glycerol with 2 molecules of fatty acids gives diglyceride
 Esterification of glycerol with 3 molecules of fatty acids gives Triglyceride
1- Neutral
fats or
Simple Mixed
triglycerides triglycerides
If the three fatty acids
connected to glycerol if they are of different
are of the same type the types, it is called mixed
triglyceride is called triglycerides
simple triglyceride.
Simple 1- Neutral
Lipids fats or oils

Chemical properties of fats and oils:

1- Hydrolysis: hydrolysed into fatty acids and glycerol by heated steam, acid,
alkali, and enzyme (e.g., lipase of pancreas).
Simple 1- Neutral
Lipids fats or oils

Chemical properties of fats and oils:

2- Saponification:
 Soaps are sodium or potassium salts of long chain fatty acids.
 When triglycerides (alcohol + fatty acids) in fat/oil react with aqueous NaOH or KOH, they
are converted into soap and glycerol >> This is called alkaline hydrolysis of esters.
 Since this reaction leads to the formation of soap, it is called the Saponification process
“Saponification is the alkaline hydrolysis of the fatty acid esters that produces glycerol and salts of fatty acids
Simple 1- Neutral
Lipids fats or oils

Chemical properties of fats and oils:

3- Hydrogenation of Oils:
• Oils usually contain unsaturated fatty acids.
• Hydrogenation is a process in which a liquid unsaturated oil is turned into a
solid fat by adding hydrogen. During this processing, a type of fat called trans
fat is made.
• Hydrogenated oils and their trans fats have been linked to an increased risk of
mortality from coronary heart disease (CHD), among other increased health
“Both saturated fats and cis-unsaturated fats are natural,
>> We produce the necessary enzymes to metabolize these.
>> However, there is no evidence that we produce the enzymes to metabolize trans-fatty acids”
• Physico-chemical change.

• Development of unpleasant odour or taste or abnormal colour.

• Exposure to atmospheric oxygen, light, moisture, bacterial or

fungal contamination and/or heat.

• Saturated fats resist rancidity more than unsaturated fats.

2- Waxes

• Essentially, waxes consist of a long-chain fatty acid linked through an ester

oxygen to a long-chain alcohol (The alcohol may contain from 12-32 carbon atoms).
• These molecules are completely water-insoluble and generally solid at
biological temperatures.
• Waxes are found in nature as coatings on leaves and stems. The wax
prevents the plant from losing excessive amounts of water.
• However, they are a minor component of biological systems
Classification of lipids
Simple lipid Complex lipid Derived lipid

Neutral fats and oil Phospholipids Steroids

waxes Glycolipids cholesterol
Complex • Esters of fatty acids containing groups in addition to an alcohol and
lipids a fatty acid.
• They can be divided into:

1. Phospholipids

2. Glycolipids

3. Lipoproteins
Complex 1. Phospholipids

• Phospholipids consist of a 3-carbon glycerol linked to a

negatively charged phosphate group, and two fatty acids.

• Phospholipids are a major component of cell membranes due

to their amphipathic nature.

• A phospholipid is an amphipathic molecule which means it has

both a hydrophobic and a hydrophilic component.
>> A single phospholipid molecule has a phosphate group on one
end, called the "head," and two side-by-side chains of fatty acids
that make up the lipid "tails”.
>> The phosphate group is negatively charged, making the head
polar and hydrophilic.
Complex 2. Glycolipids

• Composed of alcohol + 2 fatty acid + carbohydrate.

• Glycolipids can contain either glycerol or
sphingosine, and always have a sugar such as
glucose in place of the phosphate head found in
>> They don’t contain phosphate group.
• They are important component of cell membrane
and blood group substances.
Complex 3. Lipoproteins

• These are widely distributed in

tissues being present in cellular and
Structural subcellular membrane

• Present in blood plasma

• They are composed of a protein
Transport called apolipoprotein and different
lipoprotein types of lipids
Complex 3. Lipoproteins

• Classification of Lipoproteins:
Plasma lipoprotein can be divided into 5 classes by ultra centrifugation
technique (based on density)

Very Low-Density Lipoproteins (VLDL)
Intermediate Density Lipoproteins (IDL)
Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL)
High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL)
Classification of lipids
Simple lipid Complex lipid Derived lipid

Neutral fats and oil Phospholipids Steroids

waxes Glycolipids Cholesterol

• Derived lipids are the substances derived from (simple or

complex) lipids by hydrolysis.

• These includes: steroid hormones, cholesterol, fat soluble

vitamins ( A, E,K and D), terpenes, carotenoids…etc.
• Another major class of lipids is steroids, which have structures totally
different from the other classes of lipids.

• The main feature of steroids is the ring system of three cyclohexanes and
one cyclopentane in a fused ring system.

• There are a variety of functional groups that may be attached.

• The main feature, as in all lipids, is the large number of carbon hydrogens
which make steroids non-polar.
• Steroids include such well known compounds as: Cholesterol

• Cholesterol
• Male & female sex hormones
• Bile acids
• Vitamin D
• Adrenal corticosteroids
• Cholesterol is an unsaturated steroid alcohol.

• It consists of four fused hydrocarbon rings (A, B, C, and D) called the “steroid
nucleus”), and it has an eight-carbon, branched hydrocarbon chain attached
to carbon 17 of the D ring. Ring A has a hydroxyl group at carbon 3, and ring
B has a double bond between carbon 5 and carbon 6.

• Cholesterol is a very hydrophobic compound. The only hydrophilic part of

cholesterol is the hydroxyl group in the A- ring. It is, therefore, also an
amphipathic lipid and is found on the surface of lipid layer along with

• Cholesterol performs a number of essential functions in the body.

• Cholesterol is a structural component of all cell membranes, modulating
their fluidity.
• In specialized tissues, cholesterol is a precursor of bile acids, steroid
hormones, and vitamin D. It is therefore of critical importance that the
cells of the body be assured an appropriate supply of cholesterol.