Does dietary tocopherol level affect fatty acid metabolism in fish?


Mourente G, Bell JG & Tocher DR (2007) Does dietary tocopherol level affect fatty acid metabolism in fish?. Fish Physiology and Biochemistry, 33 (3), pp. 269-280.;

Fish are a rich source of the n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), particularly the highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFA), eicosapentaenoic (EPA; 20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic (DHA; 22:6n-3) acids, which are vital constituents for cell membrane structure and function, but which are also highly susceptible to attack by oxygen and other organic radicals. Resultant damage to PUFA in membrane phospholipids can have serious consequences for cell membrane structure and function, with potential pathological effects on cells and tissues. Physiological antioxidant protection involves both endogenous components, such as free radical scavenging enzymes, and exogenous dietary micronutrients including tocopherols and tocotrienols, the vitamin E-type compounds, widely regarded as the primary lipid soluble antioxidants. The antioxidant activities of tocopherols are imparted by their ability to donate their phenolic hydrogen atoms to lipid (fatty acid) free radicals resulting in the stabilisation of the latter and the termination of the lipid peroxidation chain reaction. However, tocopherols can also prevent PUFA peroxidation by acting as quenchers of singlet oxygen. Recent studies on marine fish have shown correlations between dietary and tissue PUFA/tocopherol ratios and incidence of lipid peroxidation as indicated by the levels of TBARS and isoprostanes. These studies also showed that feeding diets containing oxidised oil significantly affected the activities of liver antioxidant defence enzymes and that dietary tocopherol partially attenuated these effects. However, there is evidence that dietary tocopherols can affect fatty acid metabolism in other ways. An increase in membrane PUFA was observed in rats deficient in vitamin E. This was suggested to be due to over production of PUFA arising from increased activity of the desaturation/elongation mechanisms responsible for the synthesis of PUFA. Consistent with this, increased desaturation of 18:3n-3 and 20:5n-3 in hepatocytes from salmon fed diets deficient in tocopherol and/or astaxanthin has been observed. Although the mechanism is unclear, tocopherols may influence biosynthesis of n-3PUFA through alteration of cellular oxidation potential or “peroxide tone”.

vitamin E; alpha-tocopherol; antioxidant; enzymes; lipid peroxidation; polyunsaturated fatty acids; Fishes Feeding and feeds; Lipoproteins Fish

Fish Physiology and Biochemistry: Volume 33, Issue 3

Publication date30/09/2007
Publication date online09/2007
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