AbstractGuinea pigs were fed regular chow diets supplemented with 5% (by weight) safflower oil, evening primrose oil, or linseed oil for 6 weeks. The unsaturated fatty acid content of these oils was 78.9% of 18:2n6, 74.1% of 18:2n6, and 9.2% of 18:3n6, or 21.5% of 18:2n6 and 46.9% of 18:3n3, respectively. In comparison with 18:2n6, dietary supplementation with 18:3n6 significantly increased the tissue levels of 18:3n6 and 20:3n6, whereas dietary 18:3n3 significantly elevated the levels of 18:3n3 in plasma and liver lipids. Dietary 18:3n3 also significantly increased 22:5n3 and 22:6n3 in total phospholipids. The tissue levels of 20:4n6, on the other hand, were not affected by either treatment. These data suggest that both delta 6- and delta 5 desaturation of n-6 fatty acids in guinea pigs are low, and that the metabolism of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids may be regulated by two different enzyme systems.
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