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Feeding Laying Hens Stearidonic Acid-Enriched Soybean Oil, as Compared to Flaxseed Oil, More Efficiently Enriches Eggs with Very Long-Chain n‑3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

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journal contribution
posted on 18.03.2015, 00:00 by Robert G. Elkin, Yun Ying, Kevin J. Harvatine
The desaturation of α-linolenic acid (ALA) to stearidonic acid (SDA) is considered to be rate-limiting for the hepatic conversion of ALA to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in humans, rodents, and chickens. Thus, we hypothesized that feeding laying hens SDA, as a component of the oil derived from the genetic modification of the soybean, would bypass this inefficient metabolic step and result in the enrichment of eggs with EPA and DHA at amounts comparable to that achieved by direct supplementation of hens’ diet with these very long-chain (VLC) n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). In a 28-d study, laying hens incorporated 0.132 mg, 0.041 mg, or 0.075 mg of VLC n-3 PUFAs into egg yolk for each milligram of ingested dietary ALA derived primarily from conventional soybean oil (CON), dietary ALA derived primarily from flaxseed oil (FLAX), or dietary SDA derived from SDA-enriched soybean oil, respectively. Moreover, the amounts of total yolk VLC n-3 PUFAs in eggs from hens fed the CON (51 mg), FLAX (91 mg), or SDA (125 mg) oils were markedly less than the 305 mg found in eggs from fish oil-fed hens. Unexpectedly, SDA appeared to be more readily incorporated into adipose tissue than into egg yolk. Since egg yolk FAs typically reflect the hens’ dietary pattern, these tissue-specific differences suggest the existence of an alternate pathway for the hepatic secretion and transport of SDA in the laying hen.