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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1989 Sep 25;1005(2):187-91.

Fatty acid desaturase activities are modulated by phytosterol incorporation in microsomes.

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Instituto de Investigaciones Bioquímicas de La Plata (INIBIOLP), CONICET-UNLP, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas, Argentina.


The effect of phytosterol-rich diets (3% beta-sitosterol + 2% campesterol) on rat liver microsomal fatty acid desaturases, membrane dynamics and lipid composition was investigated. After a 21 day period, phytosterol was incorporated into microsomes and the membrane fluidity decreased. There were no changes in either the phospholipid composition or in the total sterol content. However, the phytosterol/cholesterol ratio increased. In the animals fed phytosterols, the delta 5-, delta 6- and delta 9-fatty acid desaturases were significantly more active than in control animals. The changes in the lipid fatty acid composition were consistent with those of the desaturase activities. Hence, it is suggested that: (1) dietary phytosterol modulates desaturase activities; (2) phytosterols make the membrane more rigid but do not induce changes in the relative phospholipid composition; (3) delta 9-, delta 5- and delta 6-desaturase activities increase when the membrane becomes more rigid without changes in the phospholipid composition.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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