The effect of increased intakes of polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E on DNA damage in human lymphocytes

A. McE. Jenkinson, A. R. Collins, S. J. Duthie, K. W. J. Wahle, G. G. Duthie

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The effect of increasing dietary intakes of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and vitamin E on indices of oxidative DNA damage was investigated. Twenty-one healthy male, nonsmokers aged 28.9 +/- 1.3 years participated in a free-living, split plot/change over trial in which half the volunteers consumed diets containing 5% PUFA as food energy for 4 wk and, after a 10 wk washout period, consumed a 15% PUFA diet for another 4 wk. The other volunteers followed an identical protocol, except that they consumed the 15% PUFA diet first. The diets were provided to volunteers either with or without an additional 80 mg d alpha-tocopherol acetate/day; otherwise total fat, carbohydrates, protein, and basal vitamin E contents remained unchanged. DNA damage induced by 200 mu M H2O2 in lymphocytes from volunteers as well as endogenous DNA damage in the form of oxidized pyrimidines, measured by alkaline single-cell gel electrophoresis (the comet assay), significantly decreased after consumption of the 5% PUFA diet (P<0.001 and P=0.01, respectively), but significantly increased after consumption of the 15% PUFA diet when cx-tocopherol levels were in the range of 5-7 mg/day (P=0.008 and P=0.03, respectively). These changes were abolished by an additional 80 mg d alpha-tocopherol/day. This study indicates that increasing dietary levels of PUFA to 15% may adversely affect some indices of DNA stability. However, increasing the dietary intake of vitamin E by 80 mg/day ameliorates the damaging effects of PUFA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2138-2142
Number of pages5
JournalThe FASEB Journal
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1999


  • PUFA
  • lipid peroxidation
  • comet assay
  • oxidized pyrimidines
  • dietary
  • adducts
  • cancer

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