Kaliannan K, Li X-Y, Wang B, Pan Q, Chen C-Y, Hao L, Shanfu Xie S, Kang JX (2019) Commun. Biol. 2019 June; 2, 276; doi.org/10.1038/s42003-019-0521-4
Web URL: Read the research on Nature.com here
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.
By using transgenic mice capable of synthesizing PUFA to eliminate confounding factors of diet, we show here that alteration of the tissue n-6/n-3 PUFA ratio leads to correlated changes in the gut microbiome and fecal and serum metabolites. Transgenic mice able to overproduce n-6 PUFA and achieve a high tissue n-6/n-3 PUFA ratio exhibit an increased risk for metabolic diseases and cancer, whereas mice able to convert n-6 to n-3 PUFA, and that have a lower n-6/n-3 ratio, show healthy phenotypes.
Our study demonstrates that n-6 PUFA may be harmful in excess and suggests the importance of a low tissue n-6/n-3 ratio in reducing the risk for chronic diseases.