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J Lipid Res. 1990 Feb;31(2):271-7.

Interactions of saturated, n-6 and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids to modulate arachidonic acid metabolism.

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Nutrition and Metabolism Research Group, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


Anti-thrombotic effects of omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids are believed to be due to their ability to reduce arachidonic acid levels. Therefore, weanling rats were fed n-3 acids in the form of linseed oil (18:3n-3) or fish oil (containing 20:5n-3 and 22:6n-3) in diets containing high levels of either saturated fatty acids (hydrogenated beef tallow) or high levels of linoleic acid (safflower oil) for 4 weeks. The effect of diet on the rate-limiting enzyme of arachidonic acid biosynthesis (delta 6-desaturase) and on the lipid composition of hepatic microsomal membrane was determined. Both linseed oil- or fish oil-containing diets inhibited conversion of linoleic acid to gamma-linolenic acid. Inhibition was greater with fish oil than with linseed oil, only when fed with saturated fat. delta 6-Desaturase activity was not affected when n-3 fatty acids were fed with high levels of n-6 fatty acids. Arachidonic acid content of serum lipids and hepatic microsomal phospholipids was lower when n-3 fatty acids were fed in combination with beef tallow but not when fed with safflower oil. Similarly, n-3 fatty acids (18:3n-3, 20:5n-3, 22:5n-3, and 22:6n-3) accumulated to a greater extent when n-3 fatty acids were fed with beef tallow than with safflower oil. These observations indicate that the efficacy of n-3 fatty acids in reducing arachidonic acid level is dependent on the linoleic acid to saturated fatty acid ratio of the diet consumed.

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