Linoleic acid (LA) is an unsaturated omega-6 fatty acid. It is a colorless liquid. In physiological literature, it is called 18:2(n-6). Chemically, linoleic acid is a carboxylic acid with an 18-carbon chain and two cis double bonds; the first double bond is located at the sixth carbon from the omega end.
The word linoleic comes from the Greek word linon (flax). Oleic means of, relating to, or derived from oil or of or relating to oleic acid since removing the omega-6 double bond produces oleic acid.
Linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid used in the biosynthesis of arachidonic acid and thus some prostaglandins. It is found in the lipids of cell membranes. It is abundant in many vegetable oils, especially safflower and sunflower oils.
To be fully utilised by the body, LA must be converted into gamma-linolenic acid, a reaction catalysed by the enzyme delta-6-desaturase (D6D).