In the catabolic state with no food intake, the liver generates ketones by breaking down fatty acids. During the nocturnal fast or longer starvation periods, this protects the brain, which cannot oxidize fatty acids. In 1977, we published a study in the JCI noting the surprising realization that malonyl-CoA, the substrate of fatty acid synthesis, was also an inhibitor of fatty acid oxidation. Subsequent experiments have borne out this finding and furthered our understanding of molecular metabolism.
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