The effects of dietary alpha-linolenate (18:3, n-3) and linoleate (18:2, n-6) on platelet-activating factor (PAF) production were examined. Rats were fed an alpha-linolenic acid-rich (perilla oil) diet or a linoleic acid-rich (safflower oil) diet for 6 wk, and polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) were elicited by peritoneal injection of casein. The overall phospholipid content and composition as well as the subclass distribution of choline and ethanolamine glycerophospholipids in PMN were not altered by these diets. However, with the perilla oil diet their content of a putative precursor of PAF, 1-alkyl-2-arachidonoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine was approximately 50% of that with safflower oil diet. On exposure to various concentrations of FMLP, PAF formation by PMN in the perilla oil group was less than 50% of that by PMN in the safflower oil group. A larger difference in PAF productions by PMN in the two dietary groups was observed on their stimulation with calcium ionophore A23187. These results demonstrate that PAF production is modulated in some as yet unknown way by changing the alpha-linolenate/linoleate balance of the diet.

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