Effect of Supplementing the Diet of Male Chickens With Oils Rich in n-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids on the Fatty Acid Profiles of the Testis and Liver

  • Surai, Peter F. (Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, Scottish Agricultural College) ;
  • Cerolini, Silvia (Istituto di Zootecnica Veterinaria, Universita degli Studi di Milano) ;
  • Speake, Brian K. (Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, Scottish Agricultural College)
  • Received : 2000.03.08
  • Accepted : 2000.06.09
  • Published : 2000.11.01


Since the n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid, docosatetraenoic acid (22:4n-6), is a major functional constituent of avian spermatozoa, the effects of two dietary oils rich in fatty acids which are metabolic precursors of 22:4n-6 on the fatty acid profiles of testicular lipids were investigated during a 39 week period of supplementation from 21 to 60 weeks of age. The effects on liver lipids were determined for comparison. Dietary supplementation of male chickens with Arasco Oil, which provides a large amount of arachidonic acid (20:4n-6), increased the proportion of 20:4n-6 in liver phospholipid by almost 2.5-fold. Although liver phospholipid normally contains very little 22:4n-6, this proportion was significantly increased as a result of Arasco feeding, indicating that the conversion of 20:4n-6 to 22:4n-6 was occurring. The phospholipid of the testis contains much higher proportions of 20:4n-6 and particularly of 22:4n-6 than the liver; supplementation with Arasco Oil significantly increased the proportions of both these polyunsaturates in testis phospholipid but the magnitude of this effect was much lower than that which occurred in the liver. Dietary supplementation with Evening Primrose Oil which contains ${\gamma}-linolenic $ acid (18:3n-6) resulted in significant increases in the proportions of 20:4n-6 and 22:4n-6 in liver phospholipid, although the extent of this increase was less than that produced by the Arasco Oil. By contrast, the feeding of Evening Primrose Oil did not alter the fatty acid composition of phospholipid in the testis. The findings raise the possibility that dietary supplementation with Arasco Oil may modulate the fatty acid profile of avian spermatozoa in a way which could potentially be beneficial for fertility. Moreover, the weights of the testes were almost doubled as a result of supplementation with Arasco Oil or Evening Primrose Oil.


Testis;Fertility;Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids;Docosatetraenoic Acid;Arachidonic Acid;Evening Primrose Oil

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