Abstract1. Eighty rats were randomized into four groups receiving one of the following diets: rat chow containing (1) 6% soybean oil, (2) 6% primrose oil, (3) 6% fish oil, (4) a combination of 4.5% primrose and 1.5% fish oil. 2. Following two months of each regimen, the rats were sacrificed by microwave irradiation and the brain's fatty acid composition was analysed with gas chromatography for each of the following regions: frontal cortex, striatum, occipital cortex, hippocampus, hypothalamus, cerebellum and pituitary. 3. Linoleic acid was decreased by both primrose and fish oil supplementations. The fish oil substitution resulted in a significant elevation of 20:3n-6, a decrease of 22:4n-6 and a non-significant decrease of 20:4n-6, probably reflecting inhibition of delta-5-desaturation. At the same time the fish oil diet significantly elevated 22:5n-3 while 22:5n-6 was decreased. 4. The primrose oil diet lowered the n-3/n-6 ratio in all regions except in the cerebellum. In contrast, the fish oil diet elevated the n-3/n-6 ratio in all regions. 5. The results demonstrate that changes in dietary fat composition can alter the fatty acid composition of the adult rat brain and that these effects are region specific. 6. This is of interest since metabolites of essential fatty acids may be involved in physiological and pathological processes in the brain and it has been hypothesized that dietary intake of fats may influence the outcome of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia.
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