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J Lipid Res. 1997 Apr;38(4):805-12.

Pure linoleate deficiency in the rat: influence on growth, accumulation of n-6 polyunsaturates, and [1-14C]linoleate oxidation.

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  • 1Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Canada.


Essential fatty acid deficiency has been widely studied but the extent to which its effects are attributable specifically to deficiency of linoleate as opposed to deficiency of all unsaturated fatty acids is unknown. Our objective was to evaluate the effect of pure linoleate deficiency on growth as well as changes in the metabolism and oxidation of n-6 polyunsaturates. The diets contained 20 energy % fat blended from 3 energy % pure oleate, 2 energy % linoleate (0.01 energy % in the linoleate-deficient group), 0.3 energy % pure alpha-linolenate, and the balance as palmitate and stearate from fully hydrogenated soybean oil. Thirty-five-day-old rats consumed the two diets for 84 days, after which the linoleate-deficient rats weighed 15% less than the controls (P < 0.05), had mild scaling on the paws, and visible hair loss (in a few rats). Compared with the controls, the ratio of eicosatrienoate to arachidonate after 84 days was elevated in liver (170-fold) and serum (520-fold) phospholipids of the linoleate-deficient group. In total, linoleate-deficient rats consumed 122 mg of linoleate and had a net whole body loss of 479 mg n-6 polyunsaturates compared with an intake of 24,130 mg and a net whole body gain of 7206 mg n-6 polyunsaturates in the control group. Linoleate-deficient rats oxidized 1% of an oral bolus of [1-14C]linoleate over 8 h compared with 34% in the control rats (P < 0.05). We conclude that pure linoleate deficiency has marked effects on accumulation of n-6 polyunsaturates but induces milder gross symptoms, particularly growth retardation, than classical essential fatty acid deficiency. alpha-Linolenate and possibly oleate may have a sparing effect on linoleate oxidation from body stores during linoleate deficiency.

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