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J Gerontol. 1991 Jan;46(1):B17-22.

Effects of a high-linoleate and a high-alpha-linolenate diet on the learning ability of aged rats. Evidence against an autoxidation-related lipid peroxide theory of aging.

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  • 1Department of Biological Chemistry, Nagoya City University, Japan.


This study examined the effect of dietary alpha-linolenate (18:3n-3)/linoleate (18:2n-6) balance on brain lipid compositions and brightness-discrimination learning ability in aged rats. An alpha-linolenate-rich diet with a peroxidizability index (PI) of 142 and a linoleate-rich diet with a PI value of 80 were used. Long-term feeding of these diets induced a significant difference in the n-3/n-6 ratios of highly unsaturated fatty acids in brain, but the PI values and the conjugated diene contents were similar between the two dietary groups. Rats fed the alpha-linolenate-rich diet had a longer mean survival time and an increased learning ability in senescence. These results contradict an autoxidation-related lipid peroxide theory of aging, and indicate that the aging process must also be considered in terms of n-3/n-6 balance of dietary fats.

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