The effects of dietary oils on the fatty acid composition and osmotic fragility of rat erythrocytes

M. Kirchgeßner, G. I. Stangl, A. M. Reichlmayr-Lais, K. Eder

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The present study was carried out to investigate the effect of different dietary oils representing special fatty acids which varied in chain length, position and number of double bonds on fatty acid composition of erythrocyte membranes and on the osmotic fragility of rat erythrocytes after incubation in NaCl solutions of different concentrations. For this purpose all animals were initially fed a control diet (CO) containing 10% coconut oil and 0.4% safflower oil for 28 days. After that 10 groups of 10 animals each were switched to test diets for another 20 days in which 50% or 100% of the coconut oil was exchanged for one of the following oils: olive oil (OO 5, OO 10), safflower oil (SFO 5, SFO 10), evening primrose oil (EPO 5, EPO 10), linseed oil (LO 5, LO 10) or salmon oil (SLO 5, SLO 10). The results show that the fatty acid composition of rat erythrocyte membranes was affected by the fatty acid composition of the dietary fats. Rats fed OO 10, EPO 10, LO 5 and LO 10 had a slightly lower concentration of saturated fatty acids (SFA) in erythrocyte membranes than control rats. Groups fed olive oil showed the highest level of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) in the erythrocyte membrane. This increase in MUFA at the expense of SFA and (n-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) was most pronounced with respect to 18:1 and occurred in a dose-dependent fashion. Rats fed SFO, EPO or LO had higher linoleic acid levels in the erythrocyte membrane than control rats. This increase in 18:2 (n-6) was mainly at the expense of 18:1 and occurred in a dose-dependent fashion. The proportion of 20:4 (n-6) did not remarkably change feeding diets with (n-6) PUFA-rich oils. The (n-3) PUFA concentration in the erythrocyte membranes considerably increased, whereas (n-6) PUFA decreased feeding linseed oil or salmon oil rich in (n-3) PUFA. Linseed oil and salmon oil caused similar changes in the membrane, which were more pronounced in rats fed salmon oil than in rats fed linseed oil. The osmotic fragility of erythrocytes was also influenced by dietary oil, respectively fatty acid pattern of the erythrocytes. In almost all NaCl solutions erythrocytes from rats fed the dietary oils were less resistant to hemolysis than those from control rats. These changes became statistically apparent feeding EPO 5, LO 5, LO 10 and SLO 5.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-158
Number of pages13
JournalZeitschrift fur Ernahrungswissenschaft
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1994


  • Dietary oils
  • erythrocytes
  • fatty acids
  • osmotic fragility
  • rat


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