Effects of dietary α-linolenic acid (18:3n-3)/linoleic acid (18:2n-6) ratio on fatty acid metabolism in Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii peelii).J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Feb 09; 59(3):1020-30.JA
Global shortages in fish oil are forcing the aquaculture feed industry to use alternative oil sources, the use of which negatively affects the final fatty acid makeup of cultured fish. Thus, the modulation of fatty acid metabolism in cultured fish is the core of an intensive global research effort. The present study aimed to evaluate the effects of various dietary α-linolenic acid (ALA, 18:3n-3)/linoleic acid (LA, 18:2n-6) ratios in cultured fish. A feeding trial was implemented on the freshwater finfish Murray cod, in which fish were fed either a fish oil-based control diet or one of five fish oil-deprived experimental diets formulated to contain an ALA/LA ratio ranging from 0.3 to 2.9, but with a constant total C₁₈ PUFA (ALA+LA) content. The whole-body fatty acid balance method was used to evaluate fish in vivo fatty acid metabolism. The results indicate that dietary ALA was more actively β-oxidized and bioconverted, whereas LA appears to be more efficiently deposited. LA was β-oxidized at a constant level (~36% of net intake) independent of dietary availability, whereas ALA was oxidized proportionally to dietary supply. The in vivo apparent Δ-6 desaturase activity on n-3 and n-6 PUFA exhibited an increasing and decreasing trend, respectively, in conjunction with the increasing dietary ALA/LA ratio, clearly indicating that this enzymatic activity is substrate dependent. However, the maximum Δ-6 desaturase activity acting on ALA peaked at the substrate level of 3.2186 (μmol g fish⁻¹ day⁻¹), suggesting that additional inclusion of ALA is not only wasteful but counterproductive in terms of n-3 LC-PUFA production. Despite a constant total supply of ALA+LA, the recorded total in vivo apparent Δ-6 desaturase activity on both substrates (ALA and LA) increased in synchrony with the ALA/LA ratio, peaking at 1.54, and a 3.2-fold greater Δ-6 desaturase affinity toward ALA over LA was recorded.