Dietary fat composition alters pulmonary function in pigs

Robert R. Wolfe, Wenjun Z. Martini, Oivind Irtun, Hal K. Hawkins, Robert E. Barrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: We investigated the effect of various dietary fats on pulmonary surfactant composition and lung function changes that occur before and after endotoxin infusion in pigs. METHODS: Eighteen pigs were assigned to three groups (n = 6 per group) to receive a diet of protein (20% of calories), carbohydrate (20% of calories), and fat (40% of calories). In one group the fat content consisted entirely of palmitic acid. In the second group, fat came from Intralipid, which provided predominantly linoleic acid. The third group was fed fish oil. Pigs were maintained on these diets for 21 d before the experiment. Cardiovascular and pulmonary functions were determined on day 22. Pigs then were infused with endotoxin (80 mg · kg-1 · min-1) until the pulmonary arterial pressure reached a pressure similar to that found in trauma victims (45 to 50 mmHg). Cardiovascular and pulmonary function tests were then repeated, the animals killed, and the lungs removed for study. RESULTS: Compliance was reduced in the linoleate and fish-oil groups compared with the palmitate group before and after endotoxin. Compliance changes in pigs fed the linoleate and fish-oil diets were consistent with significant increases in lung wet:dry weight ratios, increased CO2 retention, histologic evidence of vascular congestion, intra-alveolar edema, and alveolar septa thickening. Changes in surfactant phosphatidylcholine composition between groups were consistent with the notion that increased unsaturated fatty acids could affect surfactant function. CONCLUSIONS: We concluded that the common practice of providing calories in the form of polyunsaturated fatty acids to critically ill patients carries the risk of being detrimental to lung function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)647-653
Number of pages7
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - 2002


  • Dietary fatty acids
  • Lung compliance
  • Surfactant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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