Research Article| Volume 85, ISSUE 6, P353-360, December 2011

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α-Linolenate reduces the dietary requirement for linoleate in the growing rat

Published:August 31, 2011DOI:


      Background: We hypothesized that due to the absence of a dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids, the essential fatty acid (EFA) deficiency model leads to an overestimate of linoleic acid (LA) requirements. Methods: over 7 wk, young rats consumed an EFA diet containing either 0 en% linoleate (0LA) and 0 en% α-linolenate (0LNA) or a diet containing 0.5 en% LNA plus one of seven levels of added LA (0.12–4.0 en%; n=6/group).
      Results: Rats consuming the 0LA–0LNA diet had the lowest final body weight, 34–68% lower LA and arachidonate in plasma and liver, 87% lower LA in epididymal fat, and an 8–20 fold higher eicosatrienoate in plasma, liver and muscle lipids. 0.5LNA completely prevented the lower growth and partly prevented the rise in eicosatrienoate seen in the 0LA–0LNA group.
      Conclusion: Providing dietary LNA at 0.5 en% reduces the rat's physiological requirement for LA by an estimated factor of at least four (0.5 en% instead of 2 en%). Since LA requirements in humans are also based on the same flawed model of EFA deficiency, it is plausible that they too have been overestimated and should therefore be reinvestigated.


      AA (arachidonate), DHA (docosahexaenoate), DPA (docosapentaenoate), EFA (essential fatty acids), EPA (eicosapentaenoate), ETA (eicosatrienoate), LA (linoleate), LC-PUFA (long chain PUFA), LNA (α-linolenate), PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acid.)


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