Menhaden fish oil, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and protection of newborn rats from oxygen toxicity

Ilene R.S. Sosenko, Sheila M. Innis, Lee Frank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


We have previously reported that newborn rats born to mothers fed a high n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) (safflower oil) diet demonstrated increased n-6 PUFA in lung lipids and superior tolerance to high oxygen exposure. In the present study, we explored whether high n-3 PUFA might also protect against hyperoxic damage and by what mechanism. Adult female rats were fed either regular rat chow, a high n-3 (menhaden fish oil-based) diet, or a high n-6 (safflower oil-based) diet for 6 wk before and then throughout pregnancy and lactation. Newborn offspring of the high n-3 (fish oil) dams demonstrated increased n-3 PUFA (i.e. eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acid) and decreased n-6 PUFA (i.e. linoleic and arachidonic acid) in their lung lipids compared to the other two diet groups. The high n-6 (safflower oil) offspring had the opposite PUFA lung lipid pattern (with increases in total n-6 fatty acids and decreases in total n-3 fatty acids). The high n-3 offspring demonstrated markedly decreased lung levels of prostaglandin E2, F(2α) and thromboxane B2, whereas the high n-6 offspring had higher eicosanoid levels than the regular diet offspring. Offspring of both high n-6 and high n-3 diet dams demonstrated essentially the same superior hyperoxic tolerance compared to regular diet offspring [7-d (>95% O2) survival rates of 110/115 and 99/109, respectively, versus 70/91, p < 0.01]. These studies lend further support to the speculation that increasing lung PUFA content may provide the newborn lung with increased ability to scavenge oxygen-free radicals and thus may serve to protect against oxygen toxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-404
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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