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Br J Nutr. 2003 Oct;90(4):743-50.

The effect of polyunsaturated fatty acids, including conjugated linoleic acid, on calcium absorption and bone metabolism and composition in young growing rats.

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  • 1Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University College, Cork, Republic of Ireland.


The effect of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), in particular conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), on Ca and bone metabolism is unclear. In a 2x2 factorial design study, forty male 4-week-old rats were fed a control diet containing 70 g added fat (soyabean oil (SBO; n-6 PUFA-rich diet) or menhaden oil-safflower oil (MSO; n-3 PUFA-rich diet))/kg diet with 0 or 10 g CLA/kg for 8 weeks. Ex vivo prostaglandin E2 biosynthesis by bone organ culture was significantly higher (P<0.001) in rats consuming SBO compared with MSO, irrespective of CLA. Addition of the CLA treatment to either diet further lowered (P<0.05) ex vivo prostaglandin E2 production. Neither PUFA type nor CLA altered circulating or femoral mRNA levels of osteocalcin (a marker of bone formation) or insulin-like growth factor-I (a mediator of bone metabolism). While urinary pyridinium crosslinks levels (markers of bone resorption) were unaffected by CLA irrespective of PUFA type, they were significantly higher (P<0.05) in rats consuming SBO compared with MSO irrespective of CLA. Net fractional (%) and absolute (mg) Ca absorption were significantly (P<0.01 and P<0.05 respectively) higher in CLA-supplemented than unsupplemented animals fed on the n-3 PUFA-rich diet, whereas CLA had no effect in animals fed the n-6 PUFA-rich diet. There was no effect of CLA supplementation on bone mineral mass. In conclusion, CLA supplementation over 8 weeks appeared to enhance Ca absorption in young growing rats fed an n-3 PUFA-rich diet, but had no measurable effect on bone metabolism or bone mass over this time frame.

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