By using the novel transgenic mouse models were they developing; the study has providing new evidence; that it is the ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids; rather than the total amount of them; that influencing risk of developing chronic disease. Many lines of evidence now support the notion that the omega-6/omega-3 imbalance is a critical factor.
The critical factors that contributes to the development of chronic disease.Understanding of the differential effects of these two classes of polyunsaturated fatty acids on the development of chronic disease is important but challenging due to confounding dietary factors.But using several novel mouse models for studying health effects of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Fatty acid balance in mice
The role of polyunsaturated fatty acids in human health has long been debated but is of great interest. They are one of many factors thought to influence chronic disease, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease; and cancer, but studies have shown inconsistent results regarding exactly how they impact risk.
The researchers using four strains of mice for their study; a wild type or normal mouse, and then three related mouse strains engineering to produce varying levels of n-6 and n-3 PUFA; no matter what they were fed. These mice can synthesize sufficient levels of specific PUFAs to adjust for dietary factors that would normally disrupt PUFA levels. The MGH team studied whether the four types of mice showed different rates of metabolic disorders, including metabolic endotoxemia, systemic inflammation, obesity, fatty liver, glucose intolerance, and cancer.
Risk of metabolic disease
The mice that over producing n-6 PUFA had a higher risk of metabolic disease and cancer; while mice able to convert n-6 to n-3; thereby lowering the ratio; showing a healthier phenotype. The researchers were also able to uncover details about the molecular interactions between these fatty acids and biological networks. For example, the alteration of the PUFA n-6 to n-3 ratio led to changes in the gut microbiome and fecal and serum metabolites.
An unbalanced increase in dietary omega-6 (n-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and decrease in omega-3 (n-3) PUFA in the Western diet coincides with the global rise in chronic diseases. Whether n-6 and n-3 PUFA oppositely contribute to the development of chronic disease remains controversial. The beauty of these mouse models is that they reduce confounding effects. We will be able to use them to study many other things, including how PUFA levels specifically impact disease risk.