Nutritional regulation of hepatocyte fatty acid desaturation and polyunsaturated fatty acid composition in zebrafish (Danio rerio) and tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus)
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The desaturation and elongation of [1-14C]18:3n-3 was investigated in hepatocytes of the tropical warm freshwater species, zebrafish (Danio rerio) and Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). The hepatocyte fatty acid desaturation/elongation pathway was assayed before and after the fish were fed two experimental diets, a control diet containing fish oil (FO) and a diet containing vegetable oil (VO; a blend of olive, linseed and high oleic acid sunflower oils) for 10 weeks. The VO diet was formulated to provide 1% each of 18:2n-6 and 18:3n-3, and so satisfy the possible EFA requirements of zebrafish and tilapia. At the end of the dietary trial, the lipid and fatty acid composition was determined in whole zebrafish, and liver, white muscle and brain of tilapia. Both zebrafish and tilapia expressed a hepatocyte fatty acid desaturation/elongation pattern consistent with them being freshwater and planktonivorous fish. The data also showed that hepatic fatty acid desaturation/elongation was nutritionally regulated with the activities being higher in fish fed the VO diet compared to fish fed the FO diet. In zebrafish, the main effect of the VO diet was increased fatty acid Δ6 desaturase activity resulting in the production of significantly more 18:4n-3 compared to fish fed the FO diet. In tilapia, all activities in the pathway were greater in fish fed the VO diet resulting in increased amounts of all fatty acids in the pathway, but primarily eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n-3). However, the fatty acid compositional data indicated that despite increased activity, desaturation of 18:3n-3 was insufficient to maintain tissue proportions of EPA and DHA in fish fed the VO diet at the same level as in fish fed the FO diet. Practically, these results indicate that manipulation of tilapia diets in commercial culture in response to the declining global fish oil market would have important consequences for fish fatty acid composition and the health of consumers. Scientifically, zebrafish and tilapia, both the subject of active genome mapping projects, could be useful models for studies of lipid and fatty acid metabolism at a molecular biological and genetic level.
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