The objectives of this project are to investigate the metabolism of trans-polyunsaturated fatty acids and determine their effects on risk factors for coronary heart disease in humans.
At the present time, there is great concern among clinical and nutritional experts about the content of transfatty acids in the diet. They are believed to have adverse effects on the incidence of coronary heart disease especially. Nearly all the published work deals with transmonoenoic as opposed to trans-polyunsaturated fatty acids, mainly because it is technically much easier to analyze the former and because there are no suitable standard materials available for work involving the latter. However, polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential components of many biological systems and are the building blocks of the tissue membranes. During processing of fats, especially refining, trans-polyunsaturated fatty acids are formed, but their metabolism and potential effects on disease states have been largely ignored.
We propose to rectify this. Our partnership has solved the technical problems of analysis and has the chemical expertise to synthesise the required transfatty acid standards, labelled with stable isotopes (non-radioactive), that are required for human studies. A series of three clinical experiments is planned with human subjects in France, the Netherlands and Scotland to give a cross-section of the European population. Different synthetic fatty acids will be fed in a palatable form, prepared with the assistance of industrial partners in France and Finland, to human volunteers in the three countries. The metabolism of these fatty acids will be investigated and a number of parameters related tot he incidence of coronary heart disease will be measured, by using methods developed by the partners, in a cooperative manner. Specifically, in the first experiment, the effect of trans-isomers of linolenic acid on factors such as thrombosis tendency, serum lipid concentrations and lipoprotein levels will be investigated, as well as incorporation of the isomers into blood lipid fractions. In the second experiment, we will obtain information on the basal levels of conversion of linoleic and linolenic acids to higher metabolites in humans. Thirdly, analogous experiments will be carried out with specific trans-isomers of these fatty acids, prepared synthetically for the purpose. In addition, a small experiment will be carried out with rats to obtain further evidence that cannot be obtained with humans. We have a proven management team, and all the technical expertise required to bring the project to a successful conclusion. It is anticipated that the results of the study will have important implications for the health of the European population. They may provide a guide to the oils and fats industry in Europe in the optimum processing techniques for the manufacture of their products.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
DD2 5DA Dundee
6200 MD Maastricht
EH8 9YL Edinburgh