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Formula 18:2(n-6) and 18:3(n-3) content and ratio influence long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in the developing piglet liver and central nervous system.


Docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid are deposited in large amounts in the developing central nervous system, and concentrations are particularly high in synaptic plasma membrane and retina ethanolamine phospholipids. Arachidonic acid and docosahexaenoic acid are present in human milk. The precursors linoleic [18:2(n-6)] and alpha-linolenic [18:3(n-3)] acid, but not arachidonic acid or docosahexaenoic acid, are present in formulas. Desaturation and elongation of 18:2(n-6) and 18:3(n-3) to arachidonic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, respectively, depend on the dietary content and ratio of 18:2(n-6) and 18:3(n-3), but appropriate levels and ratios of 18:2(n-6) and 18:2(n-3) for formula are not well defined. The effect of formula with 1 or 4% fatty acids 18:3(n-3) and 16, 30 or 35% fatty acids 18:2(n-6) on synaptic plasma membrane and retina ethanolamine phospholipid fatty acids was therefore studied in piglets, with reference to piglets fed milk. Piglets fed 4% fatty acids 18:3(n-3), but not those fed 1% fatty acids 18:3(n-3), had similar central nervous system docosahexaenoic acid levels but had significantly lower brain weights than piglets fed sow milk. Synaptic plasma membrane and retina arachidonic acid were lower in piglets fed the formulas with 4% rather than 1% fatty acids 18:3(n-3). The dietary 18:3(n-3) content, rather than the 18:2(n-6) to 18: 3(n-3) ratio, seemed more important for deposition of docosahexaenoic acid in brain. However, synaptic plasma membrane and retina docosahexaenoic acid levels were further reduced in piglets fed 1% fatty acids 18:3(n-3) (0.4% energy) with 30% rather than with 16% fatty acids 18:2(n-6). The need for further study of upper limits of dietary 18:3(n-3) during development is suggested.


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    The Journal of nutrition 124:2 1994 Feb pg 289-98


    Analysis of Variance
    Animal Feed
    Animals, Newborn
    Arachidonic Acid
    Brain Chemistry
    Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
    Docosahexaenoic Acids
    Fatty Acids, Omega-3
    Fatty Acids, Omega-6
    Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
    Organ Size
    Random Allocation
    Regression Analysis

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article
    Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't



    PubMed ID