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Ann Nutr Metab. 1989;33(3):125-42.

Changes in phospholipid fatty acid composition of mouse cardiac organelles after feeding graded amounts of docosahexaenoate in presence of high levels of linoleate. Effect on cardiac ATPase activities.

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  • 1Lipid Research Laboratory, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.


Mice were fed diets containing a constant supply of linoleic acid (18:2n-6, LA) as ethyl ester representing 5% by weight of the total fat (5 wt%), in combination with graded amounts of purified docosahexaenoate (22:6n-3, DHA). Cardiac sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) and mitochondrial phospholipids (PL) from mice fed the diet without DHA contained higher levels of n-6 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) (22:4n-6 and 22:5n-6) compared to total PL of liver. In the cardiac mitochondrial PL, the level of LA, DHA, the total content of PUFA and the P/S ratio were significantly higher than in SR. A small increase in dietary DHA from 0 to 0.43 wt% induced a 3.6-fold increase in PL DHA content from both cardiac organelles, with a concurrent reduction of n-6 PUFA. The changes in fatty acid PL composition were much more moderate when dietary DHA level was increased to 0.85 and 3.74 wt%. Feeding the lowest amount of DHA resulted in a 6-fold decrease in the value of n-6/n-3 PUFA ratio and a 3.5-fold decrease in the value of 20 carbon chain/22 carbon chain PUFA ratio. DHA was readily depleted from cardiac PL, and only arachidonic acid was retained in the PL from both organelles, after feeding a fat-deficient diet. Despite these drastic modifications in PL fatty acid composition, the maximum velocity (Vm) of SR Ca2+, Mg2+-ATPase was not affected, which indicates that SR cardiac membrane adapts to changes in fatty acid composition to prevent important modifications of its functional properties. However, the Vm of mitochondrial oligomycin-sensitive ATPase was slightly increased in mice fed the lowest amount of DHA. This might be due to an increase in P/S ratio and/or to a modification of cardiolipin fatty acid composition, since this PL is required for optimum function of this enzyme. It is concluded that DHA is strongly taken up by mouse cardiac PL, even in the presence of high dietary LA levels, but its acylation into PL has only little effect on the cardiac ATPase activities.

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