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Br J Nutr. 2013 Sep 14;110(5):871-9. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512005934. Epub 2013 Feb 18.

Indices of fatty acid desaturase activity in healthy human subjects: effects of different types of dietary fat.

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Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism, Uppsala University, Uppsala Science Park, SE-751 85 Uppsala, Sweden.


Δ9-Desaturase (stearoyl-CoA desaturase 1, SCD-1) regulates the desaturation of SFA, mainly stearic and palmitic, to MUFA. Δ6-Desaturase (D6D) and Δ5-desaturase (D5D) are involved in the metabolism of linoleic and α-linolenic acid to polyunsaturated metabolites. The objective of the present study was to study the effects of different types of dietary fat on indices of fatty acid desaturase (FADS) activity (evaluated as product:precursor ratios) in plasma and skeletal muscle in human subjects. A high SCD-1 index has been related to obesity and metabolic disorders, while the D5D index is associated with insulin sensitivity. Fatty acid composition of serum and skeletal muscle lipids was analysed by GLC during a randomised, controlled, 3-month dietary intervention in healthy subjects. A comparison of the effects of a diet containing butter fat (SFA, n 17) with a diet containing monounsaturated fat (MUFA, n 17), keeping all other dietary components constant, showed a reduced SCD-1 activity index by 20% on the MUFA diet compared with the SFA diet assessed in serum cholesteryl esters. The D6D and D5D indices remained unaffected. Supplementation with long-chain n-3 fatty acids reduced the SCD-1 index by a similar magnitude while the D6D index decreased and the D5D index increased. It is concluded that changes in the type of fat in the diet affect the indices of FADS activity in serum and skeletal muscle in human subjects. The desaturase activity indices estimated from the serum lipid ester composition are significantly related to corresponding indices studied in skeletal muscle phospholipids.

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