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Lipids. 1990 Sep;25(9):517-22.

Tissue phospholipid fatty acid composition in genetically lean (Fa/-) or obese (fa/fa) Zucker female rats on the same diet.

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  • 1Station de Recherches de Nutrition, Consommation INRA-CRJ, Jouy-en-Josas, France.


The fatty acid composition of serum total lipids, of phospholipids of various organs (liver, heart, kidney), and of nervous structures (brain, retina, sciatic nerve, myelin, synaptosomes) have been compared in lean (Fa/-) and genetically obese (fa/fa) Zucker female rats. Both received a standard commercial diet including 37% of 18:2n-6 and 5% of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), 1.7% of which were in the form of 20:5n-3 and 22:6n-3. In comparison with lean rats, the results for the obese rats pointed out (i) no difference in the fatty acid composition of nervous structures; (ii) a decrease of 18:2n-6 (from -8% to -35%) and of 20:4n-6 (from -9% to -49%) in serum, liver and in kidney; this was compensated for by an increase in 20:3n-6 (from +30% to +320%) and in total n-3 PUFA (from +68% to +76%); (iii) a decrease of 20:4n-6 (-18%) and of 22:6n-3 (-24%) in heart compensated for by an increase in 18:2n-6 (+39%) and in 20:3n-6 (+233%); and (iv) constant levels of total PUFA (n-6 and n-3) in the various fractions studied, except in serum where this level decreased (-23%). Finally, except for the nervous structures, tissue phospholipids of obese rats included a lower proportion of 20:4n-6 and a higher proportion of 20:3n-6. This resulted in a significant reduction in the 20:4n-6/20:3n-6 ratio; by contrast, the 20:3n-6/18:2n-6 ratio increased. The results suggest that in Zucker rats, the obese character (fa/fa) affects the desaturation-elongation process of 18:2n-6 to 20:4n-6 by specifically decreasing delta 5-desaturase activity.

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