Regulation and activity of fatty acid delta-6 desaturase (D6D) [ 2007 - 2009 ]

Also known as: Improving the efficiency of dietary Omega-3 fats

Research Grant

[Cite as]

Researchers: Prof Michael James (Principal investigator) ,  Dr Rebecca Cook-Johnson Ms Susan Lester Prof Leslie Cleland Prof Robert Gibson

Brief description Fish and fish oils contain fats known as omega-3 fats. These have health benefits in adult conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease, and they are necessary for proper brain and eye development in infants. However, much of the population does not like to eat fish and also, world fish stocks are under stress. Thus, a sustainable alternative source of omega-3 fats needs to be explored. Some vegetable oils such as canola, echium, and flaxseed oils have omega-3 fats. However, these are not the same as the omega-3s in fish oil. In general, vegetable omega-3s are known as short-chain omega-3s whereas those in fish are long-chain. When the vegetable oil omega-3s are consumed in the diet, the body must convert them to the fish-type, or long-chain, omega-3s in order to gain the health benefits. Currently, human metabolism is poor at doing this conversion. Our studies suggest that the amounts and blends of fats in most diets are well below optimal for conversion to long-chain omega-3s in the body. In particular, our studies show that there may be no point in simply adding more vegetable omega-3 fats to the diet. This project will examine the enzymes that convert the short-chain to the long-chain omega-3 fats. In particular, it will examine how the dietary fats interact with each other in detrimental ways to suppress activity of the conversion enzymes necessary for long-chain omega-3 formation. Evidence for the health benefits of fish-based omega-3 fats is very strong and it is an approach to health that most people can undertake on their own. Our lack of knowledge of the best way to use plant-based omega-3 fats is a large impediment for a more sustainable and broader based use of omega-3 fats. The results from this study will begin to fill in this knowledge gap. The results will be useful across a range of activities that are determinants of the kinds of fat that we eat. These include oil seed breeding, food manufacture, and dietetics.

Funding Amount $AUD 527,683.42

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes Standard Project Grant

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