A monoglyceride, more correctly known as a monoacylglycerol, is a glyceride
Glycerides, more correctly known as acylglycerols, are esters formed from glycerol and fatty acids.Glycerol has three hydroxyl functional groups, which can be esterified with one, two, or three fatty acids to form monoglycerides, diglycerides, and triglycerides.Vegetable oils and animal fats...

 consisting of one fatty acid
Fatty acid
In chemistry, especially biochemistry, a fatty acid is a carboxylic acid with a long unbranched aliphatic tail , which is either saturated or unsaturated. Most naturally occurring fatty acids have a chain of an even number of carbon atoms, from 4 to 28. Fatty acids are usually derived from...

 chain covalently bonded to a glycerol
Glycerol is a simple polyol compound. It is a colorless, odorless, viscous liquid that is widely used in pharmaceutical formulations. Glycerol has three hydroxyl groups that are responsible for its solubility in water and its hygroscopic nature. The glycerol backbone is central to all lipids...

A molecule is an electrically neutral group of at least two atoms held together by covalent chemical bonds. Molecules are distinguished from ions by their electrical charge...

 through an ester
Esters are chemical compounds derived by reacting an oxoacid with a hydroxyl compound such as an alcohol or phenol. Esters are usually derived from an inorganic acid or organic acid in which at least one -OH group is replaced by an -O-alkyl group, and most commonly from carboxylic acids and...


Monoacylglycerol can be broadly divided into two groups; 1-monoacylglycerols and 2-monoacylglycerols, depending on the position of the ester bond on the glycerol moiety.

Monoacylglycerols can be formed by both industrial chemical and biological processes. They are formed biochemically via release of a fatty acid from diacylglycerol
A diglyceride, or a diacylglycerol , is a glyceride consisting of two fatty acid chains covalently bonded to a glycerol molecule through ester linkages....

 by diacylglycerol lipase
Diacylglycerol lipase
Diacylglycerol lipase, also known as DAG lipase, DAGL or DGL, is a key enzyme in the biosynthesis of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol. It catalyzes the hydrolysis of diacylglycerol, releasing a free fatty acid and monoacylglycerol....

. Monoacylglycerols are broken down by monoacylglycerol lipase
Monoacylglycerol lipase
Monoacylglycerol lipase, also known as MAG lipase, MAGL, MGL or MGLL is a protein that, in humans, is encoded by the MGLL gene. MAGL is a 33-kDa, membrane-associated member of the serine hydrolase superfamily and contains the classical GXSXG consensus sequence common to most serine hydrolases...


Mono- and diglycerides are commonly added to commercial food products in small quantities. They act as emulsifiers, helping to mix ingredients such as oil and water
Vegetable fats and oils
Vegetable fats and oils are lipid materials derived from plants. Physically, oils are liquid at room temperature, and fats are solid. Chemically, both fats and oils are composed of triglycerides, as contrasted with waxes which lack glycerin in their structure...

 that would not otherwise blend well.

The commercial source may be either animal
Animals are a major group of multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their life. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and...

 (cow- or hog-derived) or vegetable
The noun vegetable usually means an edible plant or part of a plant other than a sweet fruit or seed. This typically means the leaf, stem, or root of a plant....

, and they may be synthetically made as well. They are often found in bakery products, beverages, ice cream
Ice cream
Ice cream is a frozen dessert usually made from dairy products, such as milk and cream, and often combined with fruits or other ingredients and flavours. Most varieties contain sugar, although some are made with other sweeteners...

, chewing gum
Chewing gum
Chewing gum is a type of gum traditionally made of chicle, a natural latex product, or synthetic rubber known as polyisobutylene. For economical and quality reasons, many modern chewing gums use rubber instead of chicle...

, shortening
Shortening is any fat that is solid at room temperature and used to make crumbly pastry. The reason it is called shortening is because it prevents cross-linkage between gluten molecules. Cross linking is what causes doughs to be sticky. Seeing as cake is not meant to be sticky, shortening is used...

, whipped topping
Whipped topping
Whipped topping is imitation whipped cream. Like other ersatz products, there are various reasons for using an imitation:* To exclude dairy ingredients to avoid milk allergies.* To support food taboos such as veganism or kosher meat and milk rules....

s, margarine
Margarine , as a generic term, can indicate any of a wide range of butter substitutes, typically composed of vegetable oils. In many parts of the world, the market share of margarine and spreads has overtaken that of butter...

, and confections. When used in bakery products, monoglycerides improve loaf volume, and create a smooth, soft crumb.

One special monoacylglycerol, 2-arachidonoylglycerol
2-Arachidonoylglycerol is an endocannabinoid, an endogenous agonist of the CB1 receptor. It is an ester formed from the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid and glycerol. It is present at relatively high levels in the central nervous system, with cannabinoid neuromodulatory effects. It has been...

, is a full agonist
An agonist is a chemical that binds to a receptor of a cell and triggers a response by that cell. Agonists often mimic the action of a naturally occurring substance...

 of the cannabinoid receptor
Cannabinoid receptor
The cannabinoid receptors are a class of cell membrane receptors under the G protein-coupled receptor superfamily. As is typical of G protein-coupled receptors, the cannabinoid receptors contain seven transmembrane spanning domains...

s. Another important monoacylglycerol is 2-oleoylglycerol
2-Oleoylglycerol is a monoacylglycerol that is found in biologic tissues. Its synthesis is derived from diacylglycerol precursors. It is metabolized to oleic acid and glycerol primarily by the enzyme monoacylglycerol lipase . In 2011, 2OG was found to be an endogenous ligand to GPR119...

, which is a GPR119
G protein-coupled receptor 119 also known as GPR119 is a G protein-coupled receptor that in humans is encoded by the GPR119 gene.GPR119, along with GPR55 and GPR18, have been implicated as novel cannabinoid receptors.- Pharmacology :...

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