Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) act as potent natural hypolipidemics and are linked to many health benefits in humans and in animal models. Mice fed long-term a high fat diet, in which medium-chain alpha linoleic acid (ALA) was partially replaced by long-chain docosahexaenoic (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic (EPA) fatty acids, showed reduced accumulation of body fat and prevention of insulin resistance, besides increased mitochondrial beta-oxidation in white adipose tissue and decreased plasma lipids. ALA, EPA and DHA all belong to PUFA of n-3 series. The intestine is a gatekeeper organ for ingested lipids. To examine the potential contribution of the intestine in the beneficial effects of EPA and DHA, this study assessed gene expression changes using whole genome microarray analysis on small intestinal scrapings. The main biological process affected was lipid metabolism. Fatty acid uptake, peroxisomal and mitochondrial beta-oxidation, and omega-oxidation of fatty acids were all increased. Quantitative real time PCR and intestinal fatty acid oxidation measurements ([14C(U)]-palmitate) confirmed significant gene expression differences in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, no major changes in the expression of lipid metabolism genes were observed in colonic scrapings. In conclusion, we show that marine n-3 fatty acids regulate small intestinal gene expression patterns. Since this organ contributes significantly to whole organism energy use, this adaptation of the small intestine may contribute to the complex and observed beneficial physiological effects of these natural compounds under conditions that will normally lead to development of obesity and diabetes.
- human nutrition and health