AbstractTwo separate experiments examining the effects of calcium deficiency on plasma and liver fatty acids in rats were conducted. In Experiment I, weanling male Sprague-Dawley rats were fed a calcium-deficient diet with or without the supplementation of 5 or 20 g/kg calcium for 22 days. There were no significant differences in plasma and liver fatty acid distribution between the two calcium-supplemented groups. However, calcium deficiency significantly elevated the levels of 18:3n-6 in plasma and liver cholesteryl esters and liver phospholipids, while it reduced the levels of 20:3n-6 in plasma cholesteryl esters. In Experiment II, weanling rats were fed a calcium- deficient diet supplemented with 5 g/kg calcium for 22 days. After overnight fast, animals were given by intragastric feeding a dose of 4 g/kg body wt gamma-linolenic acid concentrate (containing 92% 18:3n-6 ethyl ester), and were killed 22 hr later. The levels of 18:3n-6 were significantly higher, whereas the levels of 20:3n-6 were either not changed or lower than those in calcium-supplemented group. In both experiments, the ratios of (20:3n-6 + 20:4n-6)/18:3n-6 in plasma and liver lipids were significantly reduced in calcium-deficient rats. These results suggest that calcium may play an important and specific role in the process of elongation of 18:3n-6 to 20:3n-6.
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