Indian Journal of Biochemistry & Biophysics

Vol. 51, February 2014, pp. 52-57

New mathematical derivations for calculation of ATP yield due to the complete
oxidation of different types of fatty acids
Banda Venkat Reddy1, Bommena Rajendra Prasad2, Sukesh Narayan Sinha1* and Noor Ahmed1
1
Pesticide Laboratory, Food and Drugs Toxicology Research Centre, National Institute of Nutrition, Tarnaka, Jamai Osmania,
Hyderabad, 500007, A P, India
2
Department of Botany, University College of Science, Osmania University, Saifabad, Hyderabad-500004, AP, India

Received 01 May 2013; revised 02 January 2014

During the complete oxidation of fatty acids, the electrons removed from fatty acids in different forms (FADH2 and
NADH2) pass through the respiratory chain, driving the ATP synthesis. Generally, the ATP yield due to the complete
oxidation of fatty acids is calculated by sum total the ATPs obtained due to the oxidation of FADH2 and NADH2 due to lack
of any particular method. This calculation is simple for saturated even numbered fatty acids, but in the case of saturated and
unsaturated odd numbered fatty acids the calculation of ATP yield is difficult and needs mathematical calculations due to
some changes in their β-oxidation pathway when compared to the pathway of saturated even numbered fatty acids. These
calculations are made simple by our derivations and following formulae where we require only number of carbon atoms and
double bonds present in a fatty acid. Our method is superior and easier in comparison to long mathematical calculations that
are in the practice.

C D
TSE = , TSO = , TUE = , TUO =

Keywords: Fatty acids, Respiratory chain, β-Oxidation

Fatty acids are carboxylic acids with hydrocarbon triacylglycerols (also called neutral fats or
chains ranging from 4 to 36 carbons (C4 to C36)1,2. triglycerides), which are uncharged esters of fatty
They are fuel molecules and are stored as acids with glycerol. Lipase converts triglycerides into
—————— free fatty acids. Fatty acids derived from
*Corresponding author triacylglycerols are oxidized to meet the energy needs
E-mail: sukeshnr_sinha@yahoo.com of a cell or an organism. Generally, the yield from the
Tel: 1-40 -27018405; Fax: 91-40 -27019074; Mob: 9502140146 complete oxidation of one gram of fat is 9 kcal g-1
Abbreviations: A, number of acetyl-CoAs; AMP, adenosine
monophosphate; A(ATP), total number of ATP produced due to
(38 kJ g-1) in comparison to 4 kcal g-1 (17 kJ g-1) for
acetyl-CoA; ATP, adenosine tri phosphate; C, number of carbon carbohydrates and proteins. The oxidation of long-
atoms in a given fatty acid; D, number of double bonds in a given chain fatty acids to acetyl-CoA is a central
fatty acid; F, number of FADH2; FADH2, flavin adenine energy-yielding pathway in many organisms and
dinucleotide; F(ATP), total number of ATP produced due to FADH2;
tissues. In mammalian heart and liver, for example, it
N, number of NADH2; NADH2, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide;
N(ATP), total number of ATP produced due to NADH+H+ or provides as much as 80% of the energy needs under
NADH2; NSE, net ATP yield by oxidation of saturated even all physiological circumstances. The complete
numbered fatty acid; NSO, net ATP yield by oxidation of saturated oxidation of any fatty acid (e.g palmitic acid) to CO2
odd numbered fatty acid; Nt, Net ATP yield; NUE, net ATP yield by and H2O takes place in three stages: the oxidation of
oxidation of unsaturated even numbered fatty acid; NUO, net ATP
yield by oxidation of unsaturated odd numbered fatty acid; PPi,
fatty acid to two-carbon fragments in the form of
pyrophosphate; R, number of rounds of β-oxidation; T(ATP), total acetyl-CoA (β-oxidation3), the oxidation of acetyl-
number of ATP produced; TCA, tricarboxylic acid cycle; TSE, total CoA to CO2 and production of FADH2 and NADH2 in
ATP yield by oxidation of saturated even numbered fatty acid; TSO, the citric acid cycle4,5, and the transfer of electrons
total ATP yield by oxidation of saturated odd numbered fatty acid;
from reduced electron carriers FADH2 and NADH2
TUE, total ATP yield by oxidation of unsaturated even numbered
fatty acid; TUO, total ATP yield by oxidation of unsaturated odd to the mitochondrial respiratory chain6-8, resulting
numbered fatty acid. into the ATPs.

but in the case of unsaturated FattyAcid (C) + [(C-2)/2]FAD+ + [(C-2)/2]NAD+ and odd numbered fatty acids. tetracosahexaenoic acid (C24:6) and No. VOL 51.5 C D Total no.. of FADH2 produced = F = R = … (c) our formulae than the old procedure9. BIOPHYS.. net ATPs produced = 108-2 = 106 Derivations These calculations assume that mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation produces 1. No. an ATP different types (saturated. NUO = . requires (C-2)/2 rounds of β-oxidation for its This calculation is simple for saturated even complete cleavage as shown below. … (1) TCA cycle. (8) So. The main objective acid. even numbered converts into AMP and PPi for the activation of fatty and odd numbered) of fatty acids. numbered fatty acids.5 × 7 = 17. BIOCHEM. Irrespective of their length the ATP yield can be calculated easily using No. INDIAN J. total no.g.. of acetyl-CoA produced = … (b) tricosahexaenoic acid (C23:6). of NADH2 produced = N = R = … (d) For saturated even numbered fatty acids Each acetyl-CoA gives 10 ATPs by undergoing TSE = . it reaction catalyzed by nucleoside diphosphate kinase11. unsaturated. the total ATP yield due to the complete For saturated odd numbered fatty acids oxidation of fatty acids (e. of carbon atoms in a fatty acid = C especially long chain odd numbered and very long No. of ATP produced due to acetyl-CoA = NSE = … (2) AATP = 10 … (1b) . No.g.5 × 7 = 10. hexatriacontaoctaenoic acid. FEBRUARY 2014 53 Generally. of these derivations is to simplify the calculations for ATP yield due to the oxidation of fatty acids. of rounds of β-oxidation = R = … (a) chain unsaturated fatty acids e. the calculation of ATP yield is difficult due to some changes in their + [C/2]HSCoA+ ATP → β-oxidation pathway (Figs 1 & 2) [C/2]Acetyl-CoA + [(C-2)/2]FADH2 + We have derived the following mathematical [(C-3)/2](NADH+ H+) + AMP + PPi formulae given below for the same calculation for For initiation of β-oxidation pathway.5 For unsaturated odd numbered fatty acids + ATPs due to 7 (NADH + H ) = 2. palmitic acid) is calculated by using the classical procedure9.10 as given TSO = … (3) in the following steps.5 ATP/NADH2 oxidized11. Palmitic acid (16:0) undergoes β-oxidation and gives the following products as shown in the following equation. NSO = … (4) Palmitic acid (16:0) + 8 Coenzyme A + 7 FAD+ + 7 NAD+ + ATP →8 CH3CO-SCoA (Acetyl-CoA) + 7 For unsaturated even numbered fatty acids FADH2 + 7 (NADH + H+ ) + AMP + PPi TUE = … (5) If one acetyl-CoA involved in TCA cycle gives = 10 ATPs ATPs due to 8 acetyl-CoA = 8 × 10 = 80 ATPs NUE = … (6) ATPs due to 7 FADH2 = 1. Then. The GTP If any saturated even numbered fatty acid with "C" produced directly in the TCA cycle yields ATP in the number of carbon atoms undergoes β-oxidation. of ATPs produced = 108 TUO = … (7) During the initiation of the β-oxidation pathway an ATP converts into an AMP and PPi for the activation C D of fatty acid.5 ATP/ FADH2 For saturated even numbered fatty acids oxidized and 2.

of ATPs produced due to NADH2 = NATP = 2. of rounds of β-oxidation = R calculate total ATP yield on the complete oxidation of No.5( ) ) .5[ ] … (2d) an odd numbered fatty acid it gives only one propionyl CoA at the end of the β-oxidation pathway.5 " # + 2. of rounds of β-oxidation = R = … (a) palmitic acid.* . we can easily No. of ATPs = TATP = AATP + FATP + NATP TATP = 10 " # + 1. 1—Steps in β-oxidation of odd numbered saturated fatty acid By using formula T(SE) = . So.* + .5 [ ] … (2c) [(C-3)/2]NADH2 C * = Irrespective of the number of carbon atoms in The ATPs due to NADH2 = NATP = 2. of ATPs produced due to FADH2 = FATP = 1. 1) Assume any saturated odd numbered fatty acid The resultant FADH2. C The no. an ATP converts into an AMP and PPi for the activation of fatty acid.* * = + + ) + . The ATPs due to propionyl CoA = PATP = 5 … (2e) . 1c. of propionyl CoA = P = 1[constant] … (e) ∗ / Nt = = 106 If proionyl-CoA undergoes TCA cycle it gives FADH2.: NEW MATHEMATICAL DERIVATIONS FOR CALCULATION OF ATP YIELD Total no. of acetyl-CoA= A = … (b) C ∗ / C TSE = = = 108 123 No. C = 16 No. of FADH2 = F = … (c) C No. at the end it gives 1 ropionyl CoA* + [(C-3)/2]Acetyl-CoA + [(C-3)/2]FADH2 + C The ATPs due to FADH2 = FATP = 1.* = TSE = … (1) During initiation of β-oxidation pathway. 1d Total no.5 … (1c) Total no.5 … (1d) From the above equations 1b. of carbon atoms in palmitic acid. NADH2 undergo respiratory with "C" number of carbon atoms undergoes chain and give 5ATPs as product C [(C-3)/2] rounds of β-oxidation for its complete The ATPs due to acetyl-CoA = A(ATP) = 10[ ] … (2b) cleavage.54 REDDY et al. of NADH2 = N = … (d) Net ATP yield is = No. NADH2. net ATPs produced = N. GTP(ATP) For saturated odd numbered fatty acids (Fig. = " #−2 NSE = " # … (2) Fig.

BIOPHYS.* + .5 " #+ 5 )C + .* * = + + No.5 ( ) + 2. 2—Steps in β-oxidation of even numbered unsaturated fatty rounds of β-oxidation for its complete cleavage. of acetyl-CoA produced = … (b) TATP = 10 ( ) + 1. BIOCHEM.< = = >−3 = = C NSO = … (4) e.5 … (3d) No. 3d No. 3c'. 2d. of ATPs produced due to acetyl-CoA = AATP For the activation of fatty acid. of ATPs = TATP = AATP + FATP + NATP No. of FADH2 produced = F = −@ … (c) ) . 2e TATP = AATP + FATP + NATP + PATP 2789 = 10 " # + 1.* + ) = ) = C TSO = … (3) For the activation of fatty acid an ATP converts into an AMP and PPi and one more ATP consumes for the conversion of propionyl CoA to succinyl CoA to involve into the TCA cycle So.5[ ] … (3c) [ ]NADH2 .5 ( ) No.g. If heptadecanoic acid (17:0) undergoes β-oxidation the ATP yield is ∗ : 2789 = = = = = 103 For unsaturated even numbered fatty acids12 (Fig.* :.* * = Each acetyl-CoA gives 10ATPs by undergoing TCA cycle. of carbon atoms in a fatty acid = C From the above equations 3b. 2c. of NADH2 produced = N = R = … (d) ) + . of ATPs produced due to NADH2 = NATP = 2. then acid at the end it gives Total no. an ATP converts = 10 … (3b) into an AMP and PPi .5 " # + 2. FEBRUARY 2014 55 From above equations 2b. of ATPs produced due to FADH2 = FATP [ ] acetyl-CoA + [ − @ ]FADH2 + = 1.* C ) .* . TUE = … (5) Total no.. C / . VOL 51. 2) If any unsaturated even numbered fatty acid with "C" number of carbon atoms undergoes [(C-2)/2] Fig. of rounds of β-oxidation = R = … (a) Total no. Total no.* C + . INDIAN J.

then at the end the products are e. 4th edn.* D . but in our study we have derived No. of propionyl CoA = P = 1 … (e) reflecting that our method is superior. the ATP yield is 2 ∗ / ∗ T789 = = = = = TUO = C D …(7) 106. (1991) Lipid Biochemistry: An Introduction.5 + 10 − 3D = 2 e.5 As in the case of saturated odd numbered fatty For unsaturated odd numbered fatty acids12 acid.*C :.* complete oxidation. GTP(ATP) numbered fatty acids acids by replacing “D” with zero (0) for saturated fatty acids.5C − 30 − 4.5 − 7. C D ATPs due to FADH2 = FATP = 1. TATP = AATP + FATP + NATP + PATP C C D C References T789 = 10 A B + 1.5 A B + 2. of FADH2 = F = A B−@ = … (c') calculations as there is no specific method for quantification. Nt = " #−2 = TATP = + + TATP NSE = … (6) 10C + 1. of acetyl-CoA= A = … (b) The calculation of ATP yield due to the complete oxidation of long chain unsaturated fatty acids [heptadacenoic acid (17:1)] involves laborious No.*+ ) So net ATPs produced. we can easily calculate … (4c') ATP yield of different types of fatty acids on their C .5C + 2. net ATPS NUO = … (8) β-oxidation for its complete cleavage.*C . The formula T = (14C-3D-8)/2 can UE If proionyl-CoA undergoes TCA cycle.: NEW MATHEMATICAL DERIVATIONS FOR CALCULATION OF ATP YIELD )C ) . NADH2 undergo respiratory formula TUO = (14C-3D-32)/2 can be applied chain and give 5ATPs as product for both saturated and unsaturated odd numbered ATPs due to propionyl-CoA = PATP = 5 … (4e) fatty acids. Chapman & Hall.5 No. 4c'. + 1 propionyl CoA T789 = ∗ : ∗ * ) No.5 [ Conclusion ] = . London . 14C − 3D − 32 = oxidation.g If heptadacenoic acid (17:1) undergoes β-oxidation. No.g If palmitoleic acid (16:1) undergoes β. NADH2.5 [ ] = … (4d) unsaturation. 4e fatty acids.* D By using these formulae. it gives also applied for both saturated and unsaturated even FADH2. For activation of fatty acid an ATP converts into (Figs 1 & 2) an AMP and PPi and one more ATP consumes for If any unsaturated odd numbered fatty acid conversion of propionyl-CoA to succinyl-CoA to with "C" number of carbon atoms and "D" number involve into the TCA cycle. of NADH2 = N = … (d) formulae which require only the number of carbon atoms and double bonds present in a fatty acid.56 REDDY et al. irrespective of their length and ATPs due to NADH2 = NATP = 2.*C :.*C . the ATP yield is [ ] Acetyl-CoA+ {A B − @ } FADH2 + [ ] C D NADH2. 4d. of double bonds undergoes (C-3)/2 rounds of C D So.5 A B + 5 1 Gurr M I & Harwood J L. easier and C ATPs due to acetyl-CoA = AATP = 10[ ] … (4b) time-saving. of rounds of C-oxidation = R = … (a) T789 = = = = 101. The derivations in the work can also be applied even to β-oxidation of branched chain From above equations 4b. the The resultant FADH2. Likewise.

6th edn. New York 7 E. Tymoczko L & Stryer L (2007) Biochemistry. and Membranes. New York 345-357 10 Voet D & Voet G (2003) Biochemistry. C. VOL 51. Inc. 3rd edn. John. 928. FEBRUARY 2014 57 2 Vance D E & Vance J E (eds) (2002) Biochemistry of Lipids. Bartlett K & Pourfarzam M (1996) Biochem J 320. pp 907. Lipoproteins. New York 9 Berg J M. 6 Mitchell P (1979) Science 206. 36. Slater (2003) J Biol Chem 278. Prentice Hall Publishing Co. 3 Eaton S. BIOCHEM.) (1969) Biological Phosphorylations. USA 5 Krebs H A (1970) Perspect Biol Med 14. 403-406 . 16455-16461 12 Schulz H & Kunau W H (1987) TrendsBiochem Sci 12. W H Freeman & Co.. 4 Krebs H A & Johnson W A (1937) Enzymologia 4. INDIAN J. Vol. pp 526. W H Freeman & Co. Tymoczko L & Stryer L (2007) Biochemistry.. Elsevier Science Development of Concepts... BIOPHYS. 1148-1159 6th edn. 528.. 154-170 11 Berg J M. 148-156 Wiley International edition. pp 914. 8 Kalckar H M (ed.