Effects of high-fat diets from different sources on serum and thymus lipid profile: study in an experimental model

Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2014;14(2):77-83. doi: 10.2174/1871530314666140519160607.


Background: A balanced diet is important to maintain an optimal health status and to prevent noncommunicable chronic diseases. The principal objective of this study was to analyze the effect of diets containing high fat levels from different sources, on serum and thymus lipid profile, in adult rats.

Methods: Experimental diets contained 50% kcal of fat, provided by butter (B) or sunflower oil (S); control diet (C) was isocaloric, with 15 kcal of fat per 100 total kcal, provided by soy oil. Diets were otherwise complete in all nutrients and were administered for 40 days.

Results: Group B had higher levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides than C; S serum lipid profile did not differ from C, despite the higher fat content. Regarding serum and thymus FA profile, B showed an increase of saturated fatty acids and lower levels of ω6 and ω3 FA, and S had lower levels of ω3 fatty acids.

Conclusions: The administration of high-fat diets, during 40 days to adult rats, provoked specific variations on serum and thymus fatty acids, as a consequence of differences in FA profile of their lipid sources. These results reflect the impact that eating habits have on health status. It is important to put emphasis not only on the reduction of total fat intake, but also on choosing healthy sources of fat, replacing saturated fatty acids by polyunsaturated and including oils with higher content of ω3 to keep a balanced ω6/ω3 ratio.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet, High-Fat*
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology*
  • Heart / drug effects
  • Heart / growth & development
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / growth & development
  • Metabolome / drug effects
  • Models, Animal
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Thymus Gland / drug effects*
  • Thymus Gland / growth & development
  • Thymus Gland / metabolism


  • Dietary Fats
  • Lipids