Gene pathways associated with mitochondrial function, oxidative stress and telomere length are differentially expressed in the liver of rats fed lifelong on virgin olive, sunflower or fish oils

J Nutr Biochem. 2018 Feb:52:36-44. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2017.09.007. Epub 2017 Sep 20.


This study investigates the effect of lifelong intake of different fat sources rich in monounsaturated (virgin olive oil), n6 polyunsaturated (sunflower oil) or n3 polyunsaturated (fish oil) fatty acids in the aged liver. Male Wistar rats fed lifelong on diets differing in the fat source were killed at 6 and at 24 months of age. Liver histopathology, mitochondrial ultrastructure, biogenesis, oxidative stress, mitochondrial electron transport chain, relative telomere length and gene expression profiles were studied. Aging led to lipid accumulation in the liver. Virgin olive oil led to the lowest oxidation and ultrastructural alterations. Sunflower oil induced fibrosis, ultrastructural alterations and high oxidation. Fish oil intensified oxidation associated with age, lowered electron transport chain activity and enhanced the relative telomere length. Gene expression changes associated with age in animals fed virgin olive oil and fish oil were related mostly to mitochondrial function and oxidative stress pathways, followed by cell cycle and telomere length control. Sunflower oil avoided gene expression changes related to age. According to the results, virgin olive oil might be considered the dietary fat source that best preserves the liver during the aging process.

Keywords: Gene expression; MUFA; Mitochondria; Oxidative stress; PUFA; Telomere.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics
  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Fatty Acids / analysis
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Fish Oils / pharmacology*
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Mitochondria, Liver / drug effects
  • Mitochondria, Liver / genetics
  • Mitochondria, Liver / metabolism
  • Olive Oil / pharmacology*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / genetics*
  • Protein Carbonylation
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sunflower Oil / pharmacology*
  • Telomere
  • Transcriptome


  • Fatty Acids
  • Fish Oils
  • Olive Oil
  • Sunflower Oil