Effects of flaxseed and flax oil diets in a rat-5/6 renal ablation model

Am J Kidney Dis. 1995 Feb;25(2):320-9. doi: 10.1016/0272-6386(95)90015-2.


The objective of this study was to assess the effects of flaxseed and flax oil diets in the rat renal ablation model. Flaxseed is a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid, an 18:3n3 omega-3 fatty acid, which has anti-atherogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. Flaxseed, but not flax oil, is also rich in lignans, which are platelet-activating factor-receptor antagonists. Rats were subjected to 5/6 nephrectomy, fed a regular laboratory diet (RLD) for 1 week, then divided into three groups to receive either the RLD (n = 8), a 15% flaxseed diet (n = 8), or a 15% flax oil diet (n = 7). Blood pressure, proteinuria, glomerular filtration rate, and urinary prostaglandins (thromboxane B2 and 6-keto prostaglandin F1 alpha) were measured presurgery and at 1 week (before dietary allotment) and 20 weeks postnephrectomy when blood for plasma lipids and kidneys for histology and tissue-phospholipid analyses were obtained. Blood pressure increased progressively in the RLD group but not in the flax diet groups. Plasma triglycerides and cholesterol increased in all groups, but this increase was significantly attenuated by both flax diets. Proteinuria increased 1 week postsurgery and continued to increase in the RLD group but not in the flax diet groups. Glomerular filtration rate decreased progressively, but this decline in renal function was attenuated significantly by the flax diets. Both of the flax diets prevented glomerulosclerosis and mesangial expansion. Renal alpha-linolenic acid was increased by both the flax diets (flax oil > flaxseed), but eicosapentaenoic acid increased in the flax oil group only. The flaxseed group had greater renal-arachidonic acid levels than the flax oil and RLD groups. The total omega-3 fatty acids increased twofold to threefold in the flax oil group compared with the two other groups. The total saturated fatty acids were lower and the polyunsaturated fatty acids were increased in both flax diet groups. A progressive increase in urinary thromboxane B2 occurred in the RLD group but not in the flaxseed group; the level decreased in the flax oil group. The ratio of prostaglandin F1 alpha/thromboxane B2 was preserved in the flax oil group only. In conclusion, the dietary flax seed and flax oil attenuated the decline in renal function and reduced glomerular injury with favorable effects on blood pressure, plasma lipids, and urinary prostaglandins. While we have not proven any specific synergistic effects of the constituents of the flaxseed diet, the benefits of flax-derived alpha-linolenic acid with or without lignans in the rat-5/6 renal ablation model seem clear from this experiment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 6-Ketoprostaglandin F1 alpha / urine
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Glomerulosclerosis, Focal Segmental / prevention & control
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / diet therapy*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / metabolism
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Ligation
  • Linseed Oil / therapeutic use*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Nephrectomy
  • Plants, Edible*
  • Proteinuria / prevention & control
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Renal Artery
  • Seeds*
  • Thromboxane B2 / urine
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid / metabolism


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Lipids
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid
  • Thromboxane B2
  • 6-Ketoprostaglandin F1 alpha
  • Linseed Oil
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid