, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 317-327
Date: 22 Nov 2012

Hepatic and plasma sex differences in saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids are associated with differences in expression of elongase 6, but not stearoyl-CoA desaturase in Sprague–Dawley rats

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Abstract

Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) have been viewed as either beneficial or neutral with respect to health; however, recent evidence suggests that MUFA may be associated with obesity and cardiovascular disease. Sex differences in MUFA composition have been reported in both rats and humans, but the basis for this sexual dimorphism is unknown. In the current study, enzymes involved in MUFA biosynthesis are examined in rat and cell culture models. Male and female rats were maintained on an AIN-93G diet prior to killing at 14 weeks of age after an overnight fast. Concentrations of 16:0 (2,757 ± 616 vs. 3,515 ± 196 μg fatty acid/g liver in males), 18:1n-7 (293 ± 66 vs. 527 ± 49 μg/g) and 18:1n-9 (390 ± 80 vs. 546 ± 47 μg/g) were lower, and concentrations of 18:0 (5,943 ± 1,429 vs. 3,987 ± 325 μg/g) were higher in phospholipids in livers from female rats compared with males. Hepatic elongase 6 mRNA and protein were 5.9- and 2.0-fold higher, respectively, in females compared with males. Stearoyl-CoA desaturase expression did not differ. Specific hormonal effects were examined in HepG2 cells cultured with varying concentrations of 17β-estradiol, progesterone and testosterone (0, 10, 30 and 100 nM) for 72 h. Progesterone and 17β-estradiol treatments increased, while testosterone decreased, elongase 6 protein. Sex differences in MUFA composition were associated with increased expression of hepatic elongase 6 in females relative to male rats, which appears to be mediated by sex hormones based on observations of hormonal treatments of HepG2 cells.