Calcified Tissue International

, Volume 81, Issue 6, pp 459–471 | Cite as

Specific Effects of γ-Linolenic, Eicosapentaenoic, and Docosahexaenoic Ethyl Esters on Bone Post-ovariectomy in Rats

  • R. C. PoulsenEmail author
  • E. C. Firth
  • C. W. Rogers
  • P. J. Moughan
  • M. C. Kruger


Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) are involved in the regulation of bone metabolism. Increased dietary consumption of n-3, and possibly some n-6, LCPUFAs may limit postmenopausal bone loss. The aim of this study was to determine the effects on bone of specific fatty acids within the n-3 and n-6 LCPUFA families in ovariectomized (OVX) rats. Rats were OVX or sham-operated and fed either a control diet (OVX and sham) or a diet supplemented with 0.5 g/kg body weight/day of γ-linolenic (GLA), eicosapentaenoic (EPA), docosahexaenoic (DHA) ethyl esters or a mixture of all three (MIX) for 16 weeks. Bone mineral content (BMC), area, and density and plasma concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-I, vitamin D, selected biochemical markers of bone metabolism, and parathyroid hormone (PTH) were determined. The OVX-induced decrease in lumbar spine BMC was significantly attenuated by DHA but not by EPA or GLA supplementation or supplementation with a mixture of all three LCPUFAs. Endosteal circumferences of tibiae were significantly greater in DHA and EPA compared to OVX. Plasma C-terminal telopeptide of type I collagen and osteocalcin concentrations were not significantly different in the DHA group compared to OVX. Femur BMC decreased by a significantly greater amount in GLA than OVX, and final plasma PTH concentrations were significantly higher in GLA compared to all other groups. In conclusion, DHA ameliorated OVX-induced bone mineral loss. GLA exacerbated post-OVX bone mineral loss, possibly as a result of PTH-induced bone catabolism.


γ-Linolenic acid Eicosapentaenoic acid Docosahexaenoic acid Ovariectomy Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids Rats 



This study was funded by Fonterra Brands Ltd., New Zealand. R. C. P. was the recipient of a TAD scholarship from the Tertiary Education Commission, New Zealand.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. C. Poulsen
    • 1
    Email author
  • E. C. Firth
    • 2
  • C. W. Rogers
    • 2
  • P. J. Moughan
    • 3
  • M. C. Kruger
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Food Nutrition and Human HealthMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand
  2. 2.Institute of VeterinaryAnimal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand
  3. 3.Riddet CentreMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

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