High levels of the (n-6) fatty acid 4,7,10,13,16-docosapentaenoate in the retinas of rabbits are reduced by feeding dietary fish oil from birth to adult life

D. S. Lin, G. J. Anderson, W. E. Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

High levels of 4,7,10,13,16-docosapentaenoic acid [22:5(n-6)], a fatty acid usually associated with (n-3) fatty acid deficiency, have been reported in the retina of young rabbits. We studied the fatty acid composition of the rabbit retina throughout development, from birth to adult life. We also attempted to modify the fatty acid composition of the retina by the feeding of fish oil, high in docosahexaenoic acid [22:6(n-3), DHA]. Female rabbits were fed either a control or 2% fish oil diet through pregnancy and the nursing period. Weaned rabbits received the mothers' diet. In the retinas of control rabbits, 22:5(n-6) represented 3.7% of total fatty acids at birth, reached 15.1% at 9 wk and declined to 5.6% in adult rabbits. However, 22:6(n-3) increased steadily from birth onwards, from 3.8% of total fatty acids at birth to 19.6% in adults. Dietary fish oil increased the trace concentrations of long-chain (n-3) fatty acids in the milk to 10% of total fatty acids, reduced retinal 22:5(n-6) to ≤ 0.5% at all ages, and increased DHA to ~30% by 9 wk. Retinal phosphatidylethanolamine was even more sensitive to the impact of the fish oil diet, with DHA levels in newborn rabbits rising from 10% (control diet) to 43% of total fatty acids. These results demonstrated that 22:5(n-6) in the normal rabbit retina remains elevated (compared with other species) at all ages even as retinal DHA increases. The great increase of DHA in newborns whose mothers were fed fish oil suggests placental transfer of DHA and incorporation into retinal lipids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1924-1931
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Volume121
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991

Keywords

  • 4,7,10,13,16-docosapentaenoic acid
  • Docosahexaenoic acid
  • Essential fatty acids
  • Rabbits
  • Retina

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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