The fatty acid compositions of the lipids and the lipid peroxide concentrations and rates of lipid peroxidation were determined in suspensions of liver endoplasmic reticulum isolated from rats fed on synthetic diets in which the fatty acid composition had been varied but the remaining constituents (protein, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals) kept constant. Stock diet and synthetic diets containing no fat, 10% corn oil, herring oil, coconut oil or lard were used. The fatty acid composition of the liver endoplasmic reticulum lipid was markedly dependent on the fatty acid composition of the dietary lipid. Feeding a herring-oil diet caused incorporation of 8.7% eicosapentaenoic acid (C20:5) and 17% docosahexaenoic acid (C22:6), but only 5.1% linoleic acid (C18:2) and 6.4% arachidonic acid (C20:4), feeding a corn-oil diet caused incorporation of 25.1% C18:2, 17.8% C20:4 and 2.5% C22:6 fatty acids, and feeding a lard diet caused incorporation of 10.3% C18:2, 13.5% C20:4 and 4.3% C22:6 fatty acids into the liver endoplasmic-reticulum lipids. Phenobarbitone injection (100mg/kg) decreased the incorporation of C20:4 and C22:6 fatty acids into the liver endoplasmic reticulum of rats fed on a lard, corn-oil or herring-oil diet. Microsomal lipid peroxide concentrations and rates of peroxidation in the presence of ascorbate depended on the nature and quantity of the polyunsaturated fatty acids in the diet. The lipid peroxide content was 1.82±0.30nmol of malonaldehyde/mg of protein and the rate of peroxidation was 0.60±0.08nmol of malonaldehyde/min per mg of protein after feeding a fat-free diet, and the values were increased to 20.80nmol of malonaldehyde/mg of protein and 3.73nmol of malonaldehyde/min per mg of protein after feeding a 10% herring-oil diet in which polyunsaturated fatty acids formed 24% of the total fatty acids. Addition of α-tocopherol to the diets (120mg/kg of diet) caused a very large decrease in the lipid peroxide concentration and rate of lipid peroxidation in the endoplasmic reticulum, but addition of the synthetic anti-oxidant 2,6-di-t-butyl-4-methylphenol to the diet (100mg/kg of diet) was ineffective. Treatment of the animals with phenobarbitone (1mg/ml of drinking water) caused a sharp fall in the rate of lipid peroxidation. It is concluded that the polyunsaturated fatty acid composition of the diet regulates the fatty acid composition of the liver endoplasmic reticulum, and this in turn is an important factor controlling the rate and extent of lipid peroxidation in vitro and possibly in vivo.

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