Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso

Hydroxy Acid

  • Henderson James Jim CleavesII
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_763-4


Hydroxy acids are organic compounds containing both hydroxyl and carboxylic acid functional groups. α-Hydroxy acids are a particularly important class of carboxylic acids which have a hydroxyl group on the carbon adjacent to the carboxylic acid group or α-carbon. They may be either naturally occurring or synthetic. Commonly occurring biological α-hydroxy acids include lactic (CH3CHOHCOOH), glyceric (HOCH2CHOHCOOH), glycolic (HOCH2COOH), and malic (HOOCCH2CHOHCOOH) acids. α-Hydroxy acids are important metabolic products of the biological transamination of amino acids. Several α-hydroxy acids and α-hydroxy acid polyols have been identified in the Murchison meteorite. Some interpret the presence of α-hydroxy acids in this body as evidence for the Strecker-cyanohydrin mechanism for the synthesis of the amino acids also found in it.

See Also


Organic Compound Carboxylic Acid Bioorganic Chemistry Acid Group Important Class 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI)Tokyo Institute of TechnologyMeguro-kuJapan
  2. 2.Institute for Advanced StudyPrincetonUSA
  3. 3.Blue Marble Space Institute of ScienceWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.Center for Chemical EvolutionGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA