, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 372-382

Reduction of myocardial necrosis in male albino rats by manipulation of dietary fatty acid levels

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A comprehensive statistical analysis had shown a significant correlation between the incidence of myocardial lesions in male albino rats and the concentration of certain dietary fatty acids. To test this result under controlled conditions, male rats were fed for 16 weeks diets containing 20% by weight soybean oil or a low erucic acid rapeseed (LEAR) oil. Both dietary oils contained substantial amounts of linolenic acid, and both groups developed a high incidence of myocardial necrosis. The addition of dietary saturated fatty acids to the oil in the form of cocoa butter significantly lowered the incidence of heart lesions in both groups. The addition of cocoa butter resulted in increased absorption of saturates and increased growth. Replacement of the cocoa butter by at least an equal amount of synthetic triolein resulted in no significant changes in the cardiopathogenic response compared to the original oils, thus ensuring that the reduction in heart lesions associated with the addition of cocoa butter was not due to dilution of cardiopathogenic compounds in the original vegetable oils. These results support the hypothesis that myocardial lesions in male rats are related to the balance of dietary fatty acids and not to cardiotoxic contaminants in the oils. Changes in the dietary fatty acids did not appear to influence the proportion of the cardiac phospholipids, but their fatty acid composition was markedly influenced. Dietary linolenic acid affected the C22 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and dietary saturates increased the level of saturates in cardiac phospholipids. The level of arachidonic acid and total C22 PUFA did not appear to be affected by diet.

Contribution no. 1004 from the Animal Research Centre and No. I-272 from the Engineering and Statistical Research Institute.