Optimizing DHA levels in piglets by lowering the linoleic acid to α-linolenic acid ratio

Cordula Blank, Mark A. Neumann, Maria Makrides, Robert A. Gibson

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103 Citations (Scopus)


We examined the effect of altering the linoleic acid (LA, 18:2n-6) to α-linolenic acid (ALA, 18:3n-3) ratio in the dietary fats of 3 day old piglets fed formula for 3 weeks. The LA-ALA ratios of the experimental formulas were 0.5:1, 1:1, 2:1, 4:1, and 10:1. The level of LA was held constant at 13% of total fats while the level of ALA varied from 1.3% (10:1 group) to 26.8% (0.5:1 group). Incorporation of the n-3 long chain PUFA EPA and 22:5n-3 into erythrocytes, plasma, liver, and brain tissues was linearly related to dietary ALA. Conversely, incorporation of DHA into all tissues was related to dietary ALA in a curvilinear manner, with the maximum incorporation of DHA appearing to be between the LA-ALA ratios of 4:1 and 2:1. Feeding LA-ALA ratios of 10:1 and 0.5:1 resulted in lower and similar proportions of DHA in tissues despite the very different levels of dietary ALA (1.3 vs. 26.8% of total fats, respectively). These results are relevant to term infant studies in that they confirm our earlier findings of the positive effect on DHA status by lowering the LA-ALA ratio from 10:1 to 3:1 or 4:1, and they predict that ratios of LA-ALA below 4:1 would have little further beneficial effect on DHA status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1537-1543
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Lipid Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Sept 2002


  • Brain
  • Fatty acid metabolism
  • Formula
  • Plasma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology

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