AbstractThis study was designed to examine the variations among rat strains in hepatic fatty acid desaturase activities and to determine the correlations between the activities of these enzymes and the levels of each microsomal fatty acid. Wistar rats from two different sources as well as Long-Evans and Sprague-Dawley rats were selected to assess, under standard and identical experimental conditions, the liver delta 5 and delta 6 desaturase activities. Both desaturase activities were significantly reduced by 56% in Sprague-Dawley rats when compared to BB-Wistar control rats, whereas intermediate reduced values were detected in Wistar (CR) and Long-Evans strains. The activities of delta 5 and delta 6 desaturases were significantly and positively correlated with each other. However, no significant correlations were detected between either delta 5 or delta 6 desaturase activities and levels of any of their fatty acid substrates or any other of the major microsomal fatty acids. Fatty acid composition of microsomal total lipids showed strain dependency. A positive correlation was detected between the microsomal levels of the two major final products of both desaturases, namely 20:4n-6 and 22:6n-3. In general, the sum of n-3 or n-6 fatty acids but not the ratio of one to the other, varied among rat strains. The study demonstrated that delta 6 and delta 5 desaturase activities are strain-related. The data also suggested that (i) the desaturation activity should be measured and not predicted from the fatty acid composition and (ii) different rat strains should be used for lipid metabolic studies before conclusions are drawn for rats in general.
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