Protective Effect of α-Linolenic Acid on Non-Alcoholic Hepatic Steatosis and Interleukin-6 and -10 in Wistar Rats

Nutrients. 2019 Dec 18;12(1):9. doi: 10.3390/nu12010009.


Consumption of omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) is related to improvement in the inflammatory response associated with decreases in metabolic disorders of obesity, such as low-grade inflammation and hepatic steatosis. Linseed (Linum usitatissimum) oil is a primary source of n-3 fatty acids (FAs) of plant origin, particularly α-linolenic acid, and provides an alternative for the ingestion of n-3 PUFA by persons allergic to, or wishing to avoid, animal sources. In our study, we evaluated the effect of the consumption of different lipidic sources on metabolic and inflammatory parameters in Wistar rats. We split 56 male rats into four groups that were fed for 60 days with the following diets: sesame oil, (SO, Sesamum indicum), linseed oil (LO), SO + LO (SLO), and a control group (CG) fed with animal fat. Our results reveal that the use of LO or SLO produced improvements in the hepatic tissue, such as lower values of aspartate aminotransferase, liver weight, and hepatic steatosis. LO and SLO reduced the weight of visceral fats, weight gain, and mediated the inflammation through a decrease in interleukin (IL)-6 and increase in IL-10. Though we did not detect any significant differences in the intestine histology and the purinergic system enzymes, the consumption of α-linolenic acid appears to contribute to the inflammatory and hepatic modulation of animals compared with a diet rich in saturated FAs and or unbalanced in n-6/n-3 PUFAs, inferring possible use in treatment of metabolic disorders associated with obesity and cardiovascular diseases.

Keywords: fatty acids; inflammation; omega-3; steatosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Animals
  • Eating
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Interleukin-10 / genetics
  • Interleukin-10 / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-6 / genetics
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism*
  • Linseed Oil / administration & dosage
  • Linseed Oil / chemistry
  • Male
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / prevention & control*
  • Nutritive Value
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sesame Oil / administration & dosage
  • Sesame Oil / chemistry
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid / pharmacology*


  • Il6 protein, rat
  • Interleukin-6
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid
  • Interleukin-10
  • Linseed Oil
  • Sesame Oil