Rats were fed, for 3 weeks, high-fat (20% w/w) diets containing sunflower-seed oil, linseed oil or fish oil. Chow-fed rats were used as a low-fat reference. The high-fat diets markedly reduced non-fasting-rat serum triacylglycerol as compared with the low-fat reference, and the highest reduction (85%) was observed with the fish-oil group, which was significantly lower than that of the other high-fat diets. The serum concentration of phospholipids was significantly reduced (30%) only in the fish-oil-fed animals, whereas serum non-esterified fatty acids were reduced 40-50% by both the fish-oil- and linseed-oil-fed groups. The liver content of triacylglycerol showed a 1.7-fold increase with the fish-oil diet and 2-2.5-fold with the other dietary groups when compared with rats fed a low-fat diet, whereas the hepatic content of phospholipids was unchanged. Peroxisomal fatty acid oxidation (acyl-CoA oxidase) was 2-fold increased for the rats fed fish oil; however this was not significantly higher when comparison was made with rats fed the linseed-oil diet. There was no difference in phosphatidate hydrolysis (microsomal and cytosolic fractions) among animals fed the various diets. Acyl-CoA:diacylglycerol acyltransferase activity was increased by all high-fat diets, but the fish-oil-diet-fed group showed a significantly lower enzyme activity than did rats fed the other high-fat diets. A linear correlation between acyl-CoA:diacylglycerol acyltransferase activity and liver triacylglycerol was observed, and the microsomal enzyme activity was decreased 40-50% by incubation in the presence of eicosapentaenoyl-CoA. CoA derivatives of arachidonic, linolenic and linoleic acid had no inhibitory effect when compared with the control. These results indicate that dietary fish oil may have greater triacylglycerol-lowering effect than other polyunsaturated diets, owing to decreased triacylglycerol synthesis caused by inhibition of acyl-CoA:diacylglycerol acyltransferase. In addition, increased peroxisomal fatty acid oxidation and decreased availability of non-esterified fatty acids could also contribute by decreasing the amounts of fatty acids as substrates for triacylglycerol synthesis and secretion.

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