Vitamin B5 is a precursor for the biosynthesis of coenzyme A (CoA), an essential coenzyme required for numerous biochemical reactions. CoA and its acyl derivates are needed for reaction that generate energy from food (fat, carbohydrates, and proteins) and it is involved in the citric acid cycle. The synthesis of essential fats, cholesterol, and steroid hormones requires CoA, as does the fatty acid beta-oxidation and the synthesis of the neurotransmitter ‘acetylcholine’, the hormone ‘melatonin’, the vitamins A and D and heme, a component of the oxygen-carrying pigment ‘hemoglobin’ in red blood cells. In addition, metabolism of a number of drugs and toxins by the liver requires CoA (3, 20).
Coenzyme A was named for its role in ‘acetylation’ reactions, the addition of an acetyl group (-COCH3) that was donated by CoA. Protein acetylation affects the 3-dimensional structure of proteins, potentially altering their function, e.g. the activity of peptide hormones, in gene expression, cell division, and cell signalling (4, 21).
The acyl-carrier protein (ACP) requires vitamin B5 in the form of 4'-phosphopantetheine for its activity as a carrier protein in the multi-enzyme complex fatty acid synthase (FAS). The 4’-phosphopantetheinyl moiety for ACP, is called a prosthetic group, which is required for the biological activity of the FAS-complex. This multi-enzyme synthesizes fatty acids, a component of fat molecules (lipids) that are essential for normal physiological function and include also sphingolipids (needed in nerve transmission) and phospholipids (important for cell membranes) (4, 5, 21).
The enzyme 10-formyltetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase (FDH) produces tetrahydrofolate (vitamin B9 derivate), an essential cofactor in the metabolism of nucleic acids and amino acids. Similar to ACP, FDH requires a 4’-phosphopantetheine prosthetic group for its biological activity (21, 35).
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which provides scientific advice to assist policy makers, has confirmed that clear health benefits have been established for the dietary intake of pantothenic acid in contributing to:
Authored by Dr Peter Engel in 2010, reviewed and revised by Ines Warnke on 29.05.2017