Fatty Acid Transport and Utilization for the Developing Brain

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To determine the transport and utilization of dietary saturated, monounsaturated, and n-6 and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids for the developing brain and other organs, artificially reared rat pups were fed a rat milk substitute containing the perdeuterated (each 97 atom% deuterium) fatty acids, i.e., palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, and linolenic, from day 7 after birth to day 14 as previously described. Fatty acids in lipid extracts of the liver, lung, kidney, and brain were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to determine their content of each of the deuterated fatty acids. The uptake and metabolism of perdeuterated fatty acid lead to the appearance of three distinct groups of isotopomers: the intact perdeuterated, the newly synthesized (with recycled deuterium), and the natural unlabeled fatty acid. The quantification of these isotopomers permits the estimation of uptake and de novo synthesis of these fatty acids. Intact perdeuterated palmitic, stearic, and oleic acids from the diet were found in liver, lung, and kidney, but not in brain. By contrast, perdeuterated linoleic acid was found in all these organs. Isotopomers of fatty acid from de novo synthesis were observed in palmitic, oleic, and stearic acids in all tissues. The highest enrichment of isotopomers with recycled deuterium was found in the brain. The data indicate that, during the brain growth spurt and the prelude to myelination, the major saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids in brain lipids are exclusively produced locally by de novo biosynthesis. Consequently, the n-6 and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids must be transported and delivered to the brain by highly specific mechanisms.

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