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J Am Coll Nutr. 1998 Dec;17(6):586-94.

Effects of dietary n-6 and n-3 lipids on antioxidant defense system in livers of exercised rats.

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Department of Physical Therapy, Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, State University of New York at Buffalo, 14214, USA.



The present study was designed to investigate the effects of dietary n-6 and n-3 lipids and exercise on the activities of hepatic antioxidant enzymes and microsomal lipid composition and peroxidation in Fischer-344 male rats.


Weanling male Fischer-344 rats were fed ad libitum semipurified diets containing 10% corn oil (CO) or 10% fish oil (FO), with equal levels of antioxidants. After 2 months on the diets, weight-matched animals in each diet group were divided into sedentary (S) and exercised (Ex) groups, and the diets were continued. The animals in the exercise group were run on a treadmill 30 to 40 minutes to exhaustion 6 days/week for 2 months. At the end of 2 months, the rats were sacrificed and livers were collected; antioxidant enzymes were determined in the cytosol, fatty acid composition was analyzed in the microsomes, and vitamin E levels were analyzed in the sera.


The rats in the FO-S group exhibited significantly higher liver cytosolic catalase activity, while their superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) activities were significantly lower compared to the CO-S group. The GSH-Px activity was significantly higher in the FO-Ex group compared to FO-S group. The source of dietary lipids significantly influenced the fatty acid composition of the total lipids in the microsomes. Feeding the FO-based diet significantly increased 18:0 and n-3 fatty acids incorporation into the microsomes (18:3, 20:5, 22:5, and 22:6), whereas ingestion of CO resulted in a significant increase in 14:0, 14:1, 18:1, and n-6 fatty acids (18:2 and 20:4). The serum vitamin E levels were significantly higher in the CO groups, and exercise had no effect on vitamin E levels. Exercise significantly decreased the generation of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) by liver microsomes. Consumption of FO, which is highly susceptible to oxidation, did not show any significant changes in membrane lipid peroxidation.


The present study suggests that feeding FO increases the activity of liver cytosolic catalase in FO-S rats and GSH-Px in FO-Ex rats. In addition, exercise significantly decreased the generation of TBARS by the liver microsomal lipids. Serum vitamin E levels were higher in the CO group and exercise did not alter vitamin E levels. This suggests that the amount of vitamin E included in the diets was possibly adequate to cope with the oxidative stress induced during exercise.

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