Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, C20:5n-3), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, C22:6n-3) and arachidonic acid (AA, C20:4n-6) are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) with relevant roles in the organism. EPA and DHA are synthesized from the precursor alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, C18:3n-3), whereas AA is produced from linoleic acid (LA, C18:2n-6) through the action of Δ5 and Δ6-desaturases. High-fat diet (HFD) decreases the activity of both desaturases and LCPUFA accretion in liver and other tissues. Hydroxytyrosol (HT), a natural antioxidant, has an important cytoprotective effects in different cells and tissues.
Male mice C57BL/6 J were fed a control diet (CD) (10% fat, 20% protein, 70% carbohydrates) or a HFD (60% fat, 20% protein, 20% carbohydrates) for 12 weeks. Animals were daily supplemented with saline (CD) or 5 mg HT (HFD), and blood and the studied tissues were analyzed after the HT intervention. Parameters studied included liver histology (optical microscopy), activity of hepatic desaturases 5 and 6 (gas-liquid chromatography of methyl esters derivatives) and antioxidant enzymes (catalase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, and glutathione reductase by spectrophotometry), oxidative stress indicators (glutathione, thiobarbituric acid reactants, and the antioxidant capacity of plasma), gene expression assays for sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1c (SREBP-1c) (qPCR and ELISA), and LCPUFA profiles in liver, erythrocyte, brain, heart, and testicle (gas-liquid chromatography).
HFD led to insulin resistance and liver steatosis associated with SREBP-1c upregulation, with enhancement in plasma and liver oxidative stress status and diminution in the synthesis and storage of n-6 and n-3 LCPUFAs in the studied tissues, compared to animals given control diet. HT supplementation significantly reduced fat accumulation in liver and plasma as well as tissue metabolic alterations induced by HFD. Furthermore, a normalization of desaturase activities, oxidative stress-related parameters, and tissue n-3 LCPUFA content was observed in HT-treated rats over control animals.
HT supplementation prevents metabolic alterations in desaturase activities, oxidative stress status, and n-3 LCPUFA content in the liver and extrahepatic tissues of mice fed HFD.