Sciadonic acid
IUPAC name
(5Z,11Z,14Z)-Icosa-5,11,14-trienoic acid
Other names
  • Eicosatrienoic acid
  • 5Z, 11Z, 14Z-eicosatrienoic acid
  • All-cis-5,11,14-eicosatrienoic acid
3D model (JSmol)
  • InChI=1S/C20H34O2/c1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-20(21)22/h6-7,9-10,15-16H,2-5,8,11-14,17-19H2,1H3,(H,21,22)/b7-6-,10-9-,16-15-
Molar mass 306.490 g·mol−1
Density 0.9 g·cm−3
Boiling point 432 °C (810 °F; 705 K)
log P 7.59
Flash point 329 °C (624 °F; 602 K)
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).

Sciadonic acid, also known as eicosatrienoic acid, is a polyunsaturated fatty acid.[1][2] In regard to its structure, 5Z,11Z,14Z-eicosa-5,11,14-trienoic acid (sciadonic acid) has 3 double bonds in the 5, 11, and 14 positions all of which are in the cis configuration. It is further classified as Δ5-fatty, and an omega-6 acid due to the methylene interrupted double bond at carbon-5 and a final double bond 6 carbons away from the methylene tail of the hydrocarbon. Sciadonic acid is a naturally occurring compound and has been found to play a role as a plant metabolite, commonly found in pine nut oil.[3] Furthermore, there have been propositions of several health applications for sciadonic acid as an anti-inflammatory agent. Sharing close structural similarity to arachidonic acid, sciadonic acid acts as a replacement phospholipid in the corresponding biochemical pathways.


The root behind the nomenclature of sciadonic acid comes from its high abundance in the seed, leaves, and wood oils of the plant species Sciadopitys verticillata.[4]

Synthetic methods

There are a few methods reagarding the synthesis of sciadonic acid and other Δ5-fatty acids. One method is through desaturase enzyme complexes in which the biosynthesis of sciadonic acid has been achieved in the organism Anemone leveillei via two Δ5-desaturases, AL10 and AL21.[5] Both desaturases have shown success in the synthesis of sciadonic acid, however, the mechanisms show different substrate specificity. AL21 has broad substrate specificity and acts on both saturated (16:0 and 18:0) and unsaturated (20:2, ω-6) fatty acids.[5] In contrast AL10 has a much greater substrate specificity binding only to a C20 unsaturated fatty acid (20:2, n-6) When AL10 is co-expressed with a Δ9-elongase the biosynthesis of sciadonic acid is achieved in transgenic plants. A second synthetic method is achieved through an esterification reaction catalyzed via Lipozyme RM IM and pine nut oil. Lipase-catalyzed esterification reactions leading to the development of Δ5-fatty acids can be achieved in solvent-free conditions using water-jacketed vessel.[6]

Phylogenetic significance in gymnosperms

Sciadonic acid and several other Δ5-olefinic acids are found to be relatively abundant in gymnosperms. Setaria verticillata seeds and their fatty acid compositions allow for distinction between different Coniferophytes such as species from families such as Cupressaceae and Taxodiaceae.[7][8][9] Sciadonic acid is a distinctive fatty acid that shows presence in the oils of seeds, leaves, and woods of conifers. Indicating that plant families can be characterized by the fatty acid composition of their seed, leaves, and wood oils.

Health implications

Eicosanoids and metabolites found to be biologically active have correlated to tumor progression by several mechanisms such as interruption of cell signaling. In humans, fatty acid desaturases, FADS 1,2 and 3 are enzyme coding genes found in chromosome 11q13, in which alterations can be attributed to several types of cancers such as breast, ovarian and cervical cancer. In particular, the FADS2 enzyme, responsible for Δ6 desaturation is no longer functional.[10] In healthy tissues sciadonic acid is usually not within detectable concentrations. However, detectable concentrations have been found in human breast cancer tissues[10] and in pooled human blood plasma.[11] Due to structural similarity, Sciadonic acid has shown potential as a substitute for arachidonic acid in cellular phospholipid pools in signaling pathways.[10] In keratinocytes, sciadonic acids release from the cellular membrane phospholipid pool reduces levels of pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid and the corresponding pro-inflammatory down-stream mediator prostaglandin E2.[12] Reduction of pro-inflammatory mediator molecules also occurs in murine macrophages, regulating the activation of NF-κΒ and MAPK pathways.[12]


  1. ^ U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). Sciadonic acid. National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from
  2. ^ Sciadonic acid. ChemSpider. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2022, from
  3. ^ U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). Sciadonic acid. National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from
  4. ^ Wolff, Robert L. (1999). "All-cis 5,11,14-20:3 acid: Podocarpic acid or sciadonic acid?". Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society. 76 (10): 1255–1256. doi:10.1007/s11746-999-0102-7. S2CID 94058769.
  5. ^ a b Sayanova, Olga; Haslam, Richard; Venegas Caleron, Monica; Napier, Johnathan A. (2007). "Cloning and Characterization of Unusual Fatty Acid Desaturases from Anemone leveillei: Identification of an Acyl-Coenzyme A C20 Δ5-Desaturase Responsible for the Synthesis of Sciadonic Acid". Plant Physiology. 144 (1): 455–467. doi:10.1104/pp.107.098202. PMC 1913799. PMID 17384161.
  6. ^ Kim, Heejin; Choi, Nakyung; Kim, Hak-Ryul; Lee, Junsoo; Kim, In-Hwan (2018). "Preparation of High Purity Δ5-Olefinic Acids from Pine Nut Oil via Repeated Lipase-Catalyzed Esterification". Journal of Oleo Science. 67 (11): 1435–1442. doi:10.5650/jos.ess18136. PMID 30404964.
  7. ^ Wolff, Robert L. (1999). "The phylogenetic significance of sciadonic (All-cis 5,11,14-20:3) acid in gymnosperms and its quantitative significance in land plants". Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society. 76 (12): 1515–1516. doi:10.1007/s11746-999-0195-z. S2CID 84666529.
  8. ^ Wolff, R.L., L.G. Deluc, A.M. Marpeau, and B. Comps, Chemotaxonomic Differentiation of Conifer Families and Genera Based on the Seed Oil Fatty Acid Compositions: Multivariate Analyses, Trees 12:57–65 (1997)
  9. ^ Wolff, R.L., Clarification on the Taxonomic Position of Sciadopitys verticillata Among Coniferophytes Based on the Seed Oil Fatty Acid Compositions, J. Am. Oil Chem. Soc. 75:757–758 (1998)
  10. ^ a b c Park, H.G.; Zhang, J.Y.; Foster, C.; Sudilovsky, D.; Schwed, D.A.; Mecenas, J.; Devapatla, S.; Lawrence, P.; Kothapalli, K.S.D.; Brenna, J.T. (2018). "A rare eicosanoid precursor analogue, sciadonic acid (5Z,11Z,14Z–20:3), detected in vivo in hormone positive breast cancer tissue". Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. 134: 1–6. doi:10.1016/j.plefa.2018.05.002. PMC 5999340. PMID 29886893.
  11. ^ Menzel, Jan Philipp; Young, Reuben S. E.; Benfield, Aurélie H.; Scott, Julia S.; Wongsomboon, Puttandon; Cudlman, Lukáš; Cvačka, Josef; Butler, Lisa M.; Henriques, Sónia T.; Poad, Berwyck L. J.; Blanksby, Stephen J. (2023-07-04). "Ozone-enabled fatty acid discovery reveals unexpected diversity in the human lipidome". Nature Communications. 14 (1): 3940. Bibcode:2023NatCo..14.3940M. doi:10.1038/s41467-023-39617-9. ISSN 2041-1723. PMC 10319862. PMID 37402773.
  12. ^ a b Chen, Szu-Jung; Huang, Wen-Cheng; Yang, Tzu-Ting; Lu, Jui-Hua; Chuang, Lu-Te (2012). "Incorporation of sciadonic acid into cellular phospholipids reduces pro-inflammatory mediators in murine macrophages through NF-κB and MAPK signaling pathways". Food and Chemical Toxicology. 50 (10): 3687–3695. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2012.07.057. PMID 22889893.