1. The primary aim of the study was to determine whether the stimulatory effect of tumour necrosis factor-α and endotoxin on hypothalamic prostaglandin E2 production was influenced by dietary fats containing different amounts of linoleic acid. Rats received diets containing 20% (w/w) maize oil or 19% (w/w) coconut oil plus 1% (w/w) maize oil for 8 weeks.
2. A subsidiary part of the study examined the effect of tumour necrosis factor-α on the ability of the calcium ionophore A23187 to stimulate prostaglandin E2 and leukotriene C4 production by hypothalami from chow-fed rats.
3. While tumour necrosis factor-α enhanced prostaglandin E2 production in response to A23187, neither agent had an effect on leukotriene C4 production.
4. Hypothalami from rats fed maize oil exhibited increased prostaglandin E2 production in response to both pyrogens. This did not occur with hypothalami from rats fed coconut oil.
5. Coconut oil might exert its modulatory effect by bringing about a reduction in membrane phospholipid arachidonic acid content.