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Vol. 50, No. 6, 2006
Issue release date: February 2007

Diet and Gene Expression: Delta-5 and Delta-6 Desaturases in Healthy Chinese and European Subjects

Xiang M. · Rahman M.A. · Ai H. · Li X. · Harbige L.S.
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Aim: To compare the composition of fatty acids (FAs) in diet, and the expression of delta-6 desaturase (D6D) and delta-5 desaturase (D5D) genes in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) between Chinese and Europeans. Methods: Three-day dietary records from 20 subjects from Beijing, China (n = 10) and Kent, UK (n = 10) were analysed. Expression of PBMC D6D and D5D genes of the subjects was determined using RT-PCR. Results: The dietary intake of Chinese subjects contained less saturated fatty acids (SFAs) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), but more essential fatty acids (EFAs) than that of Europeans. Levels of expression of PBMC D6D and D5D genes of Chinese subjects were significantly lower than those of Europeans. A significant positive correlation was found between dietary intake of total SFAs and total MUFAs and expression of PBMC D6D and D5D genes, but a significant negative correlation between dietary intake of linoleic acid (LA) and α-linolenic acid (LNA) and the expression of PBMC D6D and D5D genes. Conclusion: Intake of high SFAs and MUFAs appears to increase expression of PBMC D6D and D5D genes, whilst high EFAs intake appears to decrease expression of PBMC D6D and D5D genes. A follow-up study of the expression of D6D and D5D genes in Chinese who live in European countries with high SFA and MUFA diets would be of interest.

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