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J Lipid Res. 2003 Jan;44(1):41-8.

Plasma fatty acids and [13C]linoleic acid metabolism in preterm infants fed a formula with medium-chain triglycerides.

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Dr. von Hauner Children's Hospital, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany.


Most preterm infant formulas contain medium-chain triacylglycerols (MCT), but the effects of MCT on polyunsaturated fatty acid status and metabolism are controversial. Thus, we studied the effects of MCT on linoleic acid metabolism using stable isotopes. Enterally fed preterm infants were randomized to receive for 7 days 40% of fat as MCT (n = 10) or a formula without MCT (n = 9). At study day 5, infants received orally 2 mg/kg body weight of (13)C-labeled linoleic acid. Fatty acids in plasma lipid classes and (13)C enrichment of phospholipid fatty acids were measured and tracer oxidation was monitored. Compared with the control group, the MCT group showed lower breath (13)CO(2) and higher plasma triacylglycerol contents of octanoic acid, of decanoic acid, and of total long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (57.1 +/- 4.4 micro mol/l vs. 37.9 +/- 4.8 micro mol/l, P < 0.01). Concentrations of several polyunsaturated fatty acids in plasma phospholipids and non esterified fatty acids were higher in the MCT group. (13)C concentrations in phospholipid n-6 fatty acids indicated no difference in the relative conversion of linoleic to arachidonic acid. We conclude that oral MCT effectively reduce polyunsaturated fatty acid and long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid oxidation in preterm infants without compromising endogenous n-6 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid synthesis.

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