Lipids: Classification, nomenclature, general properties and functions

Lipids: Classification, nomenclature, general properties and functions

January 5, 2022

Classification, nomenclature, general properties and functions of lipids

Fatty acids, TriacylglyceridesWaxes, Phospholipids, PlasmalogensSphingolipids, Cholesterol,   Prostaglandins

The lipids are a heterogeneous group of compounds insoluble in water and considerably soluble in organic solvents like ether, chloroform and benzene. 

  • As molecules that are largely hydrocarbon in nature, lipids represent highly reduced forms of carbon and, upon oxidation in metabolism, yield large amounts of energy. 
  • Lipids are thus the molecules of choice for metabolic energy storage. 
  • Hydrophobic in nature
  • These are also called as lipins or lipoids which refer to “fat-like” substances that may not actually be related to the fatty acids. 
  • The term ‘lipid’ was first used by the German biochemist Bloor in 1943 for a major class of tissue components and foodstuffs. 


  • Bloor (1943) has proposed the following classification of lipids based on their chemical composition
  • Simple lipids or Homolipids . These are esters of fatty acid with various alcohols.
  • Fats and oils (triglycerides, triacylglycerols(storage lipids):These are esters of fatty acids with trihydroxy alcohol (glycerol). A fat is solid at ordinary room temperature where as an oil is liquid.
  • Waxes: These are esters of fatty acids with high molecular weight monohydroxy alcohols.
  • Compound lipids or Heterolipids (Structural lipids) Esters of fatty acids with alcohol and possess additional group(s).
  • Phospholipids (phosphatids)consist of compounds containing fatty acids, glycerol, a phosphoric acid, nitrogen bases and or other substituent.
  • Glycolipids (cerebrosides): These are the compounds of fatty acids with carbohydrates and contain nitrogen but no phosphoric acid. The glycolipids include certain structurally-related compounds comprising the groups, sphingolipidcerebrosides and gangliosides
  • Derived lipids are the substances derived from simple and compound lipids by hydrolysis. These include fatty acids, alcohols, mono- and diglycerides, steroids, terpenes and carotenoids

One response to “Lipids: Classification, nomenclature, general properties and functions”

  1. […] Lipid structures, properties and functions […]

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