Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Lipids in Health and Disease and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Research

Effect of different dietary omega-3/omega-6 fatty acid ratios on reproduction in male rats

Lin Yan, Xiao-long Bai, Zheng-feng Fang, Lian-qiang Che, Sheng-yu Xu and De Wu*

Author Affiliations

Key Laboratory for Animal Disease Resistance Nutrition of the Ministry of Education, and Animal Nutrition Institute of Sichuan Agricultural University, Ya’an, 625014, China

For all author emails, please log on.

Lipids in Health and Disease 2013, 12:33  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-12-33

Published: 13 March 2013



Beneficial effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) on the reproduction of male animals are widely described in the literature. However, there is little information about the effect of n-3/n-6 PUFA ratios on male health and reproduction. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of diets with different n-3/n-6 PUFA ratios on the reproductive performance of male rats.


Eighty male Sprague Dawley (SD) rats were supplemented with diets containing different n-3/n-6 PUFA ratios (0.13, 0.40, 0.85, 1.52 and 2.85) for 60 days. Half of the rats in each group were sacrificed on day 60, and the other half were chosen to mate with female mice to assess the effects of n-3/n-6 ratios on reproductive performance.


Sperm density and sperm motility of the 1.52 group were higher than other groups (P < .05), and the development of testis and the morphological structure of sperm in the 1.52 group were better than other groups. Furthermore, a higher litter size and birth weights of offspring were observed in the 1.52 group. Additionally, serum reproductive hormone levels were significantly affected by the n-3/n-6 ratios.


These findings demonstrated that a balanced n-3/n-6 ratio was important in male rat reproduction. Therefore there is a necessity to determine an appropriate n-3/n-6 PUFA ratio in man and different male animals in the future.

Omega-3 fatty acids; Omega-6 fatty acids; Ratio; Male; Reproduction