AbstractThe metabolites of linoleic (LA) and alpha-linolenic (ALA) acids are involved in coronary heart disease. Both n-6 and n-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) are likely to be important in prevention of atherosclerosis since the common risk factors are associated with their reduced 6-desaturation. We previously demonstrated the ability of heart tissue to desaturate LA. In this study we examined the ability of cultured cardiomyocytes to metabolize both LA and ALA in vivo, in the absence and in the presence of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) alone or combined together. In control conditions, about 25% or LA and about 90% of ALA were converted in PUFAs. GLA supplementation had no influence on LA conversion to more unsaturated fatty acids, while the addition of n-3 fatty acids, alone or combined together, significantly decreased the formation of interconversion products from LA. Using the combination of n-6 and n-3 PUFAs, GLA seemed to counterbalance partially the inhibitory effect of EPA and DHA on LA desaturation/elongation. The conversion of ALA to more unsaturated metabolites was greatly affected by GLA supplementation. Each supplemented fatty acid was incorporated to a significant extent into cardiomyocyte lipids, as revealed by gas chromatographic analysis. The n-6/n-3 fatty acid ratio was greatly influenced by the different supplementations; the ratio in GLA+EPA+DHA supplemented cardiomyocytes was the most similar to that recorded in control cardiomyocytes. Since important risk factors for coronary disease may be associated with reduced 6-desaturation of the parent EFAs, administration of n-6 or n-3 EFA metabolites alone could cause undesirable effects. Since they appear to have different and synergistic roles, only combined treatment with both n-6 and n-3 metabolites is likely to achieve optimum results.
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