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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1997 Jan 31;1323(2):253-62.

Lipid structure of rat adipocyte plasma membranes following dietary lard and fish oil.

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Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Canada.


We have determined the changes in the lipid structure of the adipocyte plasma membranes of rats receiving lard or fish oil in their diet. For this purpose, mature Wistar rats were fed 20% (w/w) lard or fish oil diets for 22 days, when the plasma membranes of the epididymal and perirenal adipocytes were prepared. Detailed analysis of the membrane lipids by chromatographic methods showed that dietary fat exerted a major effect on the lipid class and molecular species composition of the phospholipids. As a result of fish oil feeding, significant increases in the 20:5(n-3), 22:5(n-3) and 22:6(n-3) were detected in all glycerophospholipid classes, while the 18:1(n-9) and 18:2(n-6) and to a lesser extent 20:4(n-6) decreased. Incorporation of n-3 fatty acids increased the phosphatidylcholine/sphingomyelin ratio without changing the total phospholipid or free cholesterol content of the membrane. Fish oil feeding also caused a marked increase in the proportion of 24:1 in sphingomyelins, which occurred mainly at the expense of 18:0 and 24:0. New n-3 fatty acid-containing species appeared in the choline and ethanolamine glycerophospholipids, when compared to membrane lipids from lard-fed rats. Membranes from fish oil fed rats also had moderately higher levels of ether lipids. Few differences were seen between the membranes of the epididymal and perirenal adipocytes. It is concluded that dietary fish oils modify the lipid structure of rat adipocyte plasma membranes by increasing the ratio of phosphatidylcholine to sphingomyelin and by increasing the proportion of molecular species with polyunsaturated fatty acids, which would be anticipated to increase the fluidity of the lipid bilayer of adipocyte plasma membranes.

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