The newly hatched chick obtains its fatty acids almost completely from the lipids of the egg yolk as these are transferred to the developing embryo during its 21-day period of incubation. Since the diet of the laying hen greatly influences the fatty acid composition of the egg lipids, and presumably also the fatty acid composition of the resulting chick, we tested how quickly and to what extent varying the amount of n-3 fatty acids in the diet of the hen would modulate the level of n-3 fatty acids in the brain and retina of the newly hatched chick. White Leghorn hens were fed commercial or semi-purified diets supplemented with 10% fish oil, linseed oil, soy oil, or safflower oil. Eggs, together with the brain, retina, and serum of newly hatched chicks, were then analyzed for fatty acid composition. The fatty acids of egg yolk responded quickly to the hen's diet with most of the change occurring by 4 weeks. There was a linear relationship between the linolenic acid content of the diets and levels of this fatty acid in egg yolk and chick serum. In chicks from hens fed the fish oil diet, the total n-3 fatty acids, including 22:6 (n-3), were elevated twofold in the brain and retina and sevenfold in serum relative to commercial diet controls. The safflower oil diet led to a very low n-3 fatty acid content in egg yolks and only 25% of the control n-3 fatty acid content in the brain and retina of chicks. However, 5'-nucleotidase activity in chick brain homogenate was unaffected by the various diets. This study demonstrates that the n-3 fatty acid content of neural tissue in newly hatched chicks can be quickly and conveniently manipulated through the diet of the laying hen.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Journal of lipid research|
|State||Published - 1989|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology