Two diets simulating the recommendations of the American Heart Association to increase the intake of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) were tested on Golden Syrian hamsters and compared to the diet simulating the current estimated consumption of fat in the United States. N-3 PUFAs were evaluated for their effects on serum and brain lipids and on the three cytochrome P450 enzymes (CYPs 7A1, 27A1, and 46A1) that play key roles in cholesterol elimination from different organs. Hamsters on the highest concentration of n-3 PUFAs had a statistically significant decrease in LDL and HDL cholesterol and no change in serum total cholesterol and triglycerides levels. CYP27A1 and CYP46A1 mRNA levels were increased in the liver and brain, respectively, whereas possible effects on CYP7A1 were obscured by a marked intergroup variability at mRNA, protein, and sterol product levels. Increased levels of CYP46A1 mRNA in the brain did not lead to significant changes in the levels of lathosterol, 24S-hydroxycholesterol or cholesterol in this organ. The data obtained are discussed in relation to inconsistent effects of n-3 PUFAs on serum lipids in human trials and reported positive effects of fish oil on cognitive function.
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