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Open Access Research

Menhaden oil, but not safflower or soybean oil, aids in restoring the polyunsaturated fatty acid profile in the novel delta-6-desaturase null mouse

Jessica Monteiro1, Feng-Jun Li1, Mira MacLennan1, Alexandra Rabalski1, Mohammed H Moghadasian2, Manabu T Nakamura3 and David WL Ma1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada

2 Department of Human Nutritional Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, R2H 2A6, CAnada

3 Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Division of Nutritional Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, 61801, USA

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Lipids in Health and Disease 2012, 11:60  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-11-60

Published: 29 May 2012

Abstract

Background

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) have diverse biological effects, from promoting inflammation to preventing cancer and heart disease. Growing evidence suggests that individual PUFA may have independent effects in health and disease. The individual roles of the two essential PUFA, linoleic acid (LA) and α-linolenic acid (ALA), have been difficult to discern from the actions of their highly unsaturated fatty acid (HUFA) downstream metabolites. This issue has recently been addressed through the development of the Δ-6 desaturase knock out (D6KO) mouse, which lacks the rate limiting Δ-6 desaturase enzyme and therefore cannot metabolize LA or ALA. However, a potential confounder in this model is the production of novel Δ-5 desaturase (D5D) derived fatty acids when D6KO mice are fed diets containing LA and ALA, but void of arachidonic acid.

Objective

The aim of the present study was to characterize how the D6KO model differentially responds to diets containing the essential n-6 and n-3 PUFA, and whether the direct provision of downstream HUFA can rescue the phenotype and prevent the production of D5D fatty acids.

Methodology

Liver and serum phospholipid (PL) fatty acid composition was examined in D6KO and wild type mice fed i) 10% safflower oil diet (SF, LA rich) ii) 10% soy diet (SO, LA+ALA) or iii) 3% menhaden oil +7% SF diet (MD, HUFA rich) for 28 days (n = 3-7/group).

Results

Novel D5D fatty acids were found in liver PL of D6KO fed SF or SO-fed mice, but differed in the type of D5D fatty acid depending on diet. Conversely, MD-fed D6KO mice had a liver PL fatty acid profile similar to wild-type mice.

Conclusions

Through careful consideration of the dietary fatty acid composition, and especially the HUFA content in order to prevent the synthesis of D5D fatty acids, the D6KO model has the potential to elucidate the independent biological and health effects of the parent n-6 and n-3 fatty acids, LA and ALA.

Keywords:
Knock-out; Liver; Alpha-linolenic acid; Linoleic acid; HUFA; Delta-6 desaturase knock-out; Delta-5 desaturase