AbstractIn this study we demonstrate that cultured rat cardiomyocytes possess the capacity to desaturate/elongate essential fatty acids (EFAs). Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) conversion to higher metabolites was greater than linoleic acid (LA) conversion, according to the higher affinity of the delta-6-desaturase enzyme for the n-3 than for the n-6 EFAs. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) supplementation to the culture medium had no influence on LA conversion; but the addition of eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids significantly decreased the formation of interconversion products from LA. The conversion of ALA to higher metabolites was greatly affected by GLA; EPA had no effect on ALA conversion, while DHA significantly inhibited it. Both GLA (converted mostly to dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid) and EPA can be removed from phospholipids and addressed to prostanoid biosynthesis, so avoiding their potential accumulation and the inhibition of their own production. Our data clearly indicate that supplementation of the culture medium with either n-6 or n-3 fatty acids can cause reduced levels of the other series of fatty acids. This effect may be undesirable, since both n-6 and n-3 fatty acids are important in the prevention of coronary diseases.
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