Homeostatic control of membrane fatty acid composition in the rat after dietary lipid treatment

R. A. Gibson, E. J. Mcmurchie, J. S. Charnock, G. M. Kneebone

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Diets in which both the lipid content and composition (polyunsaturated to saturated fatty acid ratio) were varied were fed to rats for 20 weeks, and the effects on the tissue lipid profiles were determined. The fatty acid profile of the plasma lipids, and the phospholipid fatty acids of the mitochondrial and microsomal fractions of liver, heart, kidney and brain, as well as erythrocyte membranes were determined. Despite large differences in the level and type of lipid present in the experimental diets and in the proportion of saturated fatty acids in the plasma lipids in response to the various diets, there was little effect on the proportion of saturated to unsaturated fatty acids in the phospholipids of the various membranes examined. The major effect of altering the dietary level of polyunsaturated to saturated fatty acids was on the ratio of the ω6/ω3 series of unsaturated fatty acids in the membrane lipids. This change occurred in all tissues except the brain, in which only a small response to altered dietary lipid intake was observed. The ω6/ω3 ratio was elevated upon feeding a diet rich in ω6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, but decreased when a diet rich in saturated fatty acids was fed. The failure to significantly alter membrane lipid saturation/unsaturation in the tissues examined would suggest that a homeostatic mechanism is operative in biological membranes and may act to buffer membranes from the effects of changes in the nature of the dietary lipid intake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)942-951
Number of pages10
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Cell Biology

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