A comparison of the metabolism of eighteen-carbon 13C-unsaturated fatty acids in healthy women

J Lipid Res. 2004 Mar;45(3):474-85. doi: 10.1194/jlr.M300304-JLR200. Epub 2003 Dec 16.


Altered use of different dietary fatty acids may contribute to several chronic diseases, including obesity, noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular disease. However, few comparative data are available to support this link, so the goal of the present study was to compare the metabolism of [(13)C]oleate, [(13)C]alpha-linolenate, [(13)C]elaidate, and [(13)C]linoleate through oxidation and incorporation into plasma lipid fractions and adipose tissue. Each tracer was given as a single oral bolus to six healthy women. Samples were collected over 8 days, and (13)C was analyzed using isotope ratio mass spectrometry. At 9 h postdose, cumulative oxidation was similar for [(13)C]elaidate, [(13)C]oleate, and [(13)C]alpha-linolenate (19 +/- 1%, 20 +/- 4%, and 19 +/- 3% dose, respectively). Significantly lower oxidation of [(13)C]linoleate (12 +/- 4% dose; P < 0.05) was accompanied by its higher incorporation into plasma phospholipids and cholesteryl esters. Abdominal adipose tissue was enriched with [(13)C]alpha-linolenate, [(13)C]elaidate, or [(13)C]linoleate within 6 h. The percentage linoleate in plasma phospholipids correlated positively with [(13)C]linoleate and [(13)C]elaidate oxidation, indicating a potential role of background diet. Conversion of [(13)C]linoleate and [(13)C]alpha-linolenate to longer chain polyunsaturates was a quantitatively minor route of utilization.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Breath Tests
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / chemistry*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Health
  • Humans
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Time Factors


  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated