The consumption of high levels of industrial trans fatty acids (TFA) has been related to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and sudden cardiac death but the causal mechanisms are not well known.
In a double-blinded randomized controlled parallel-group study, 52 overweight postmenopausal women received either partially hydrogenated soybean oil, providing 15.7 g/day of TFA (trans18:1) or control oil with mainly oleic acid for 16 weeks. Subsequent to the intervention period, the subjects participated in a 12-week dietary weight loss program. Before and after the TFA intervention and after the weight loss programme, volunteers participated in an oral glucose tolerance test. PLSDA revealed elevated lipid profiles with TFA intake. NMR indicated up-regulated LDL cholesterol levels and unsaturation. LC-MS profiles demonstrated elevated levels of specific polyunsaturated (PUFA) long-chain phosphatidylcholines (PCs) and a sphingomyelin (SM) which were confirmed with a lipidomics based method. Plasma levels of these markers of TFA intake declined to their low baseline levels after the weight loss program for the TFA group and did not fluctuate for the control group. The marker levels were unaffected by OGTT.
This study demonstrates that intake of TFA affects phospholipid metabolism. The preferential integration of trans18:1 into the sn-1 position of PCs, all containing PUFA in the sn-2 position, could be explained by a general up-regulation in the formation of long-chain PUFAs after TFA intake and/or by specific mobilisation of these fats into PCs. NMR supported these findings by revealing increased unsaturation of plasma lipids in the TFA group. These specific changes in membrane lipid species may be related to the mechanisms of TFA-induced disease but need further validation as risk markers.
The article is published online in PLoS ONE and is free to access.