Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Animal Science; Medicine

First Advisor

Dr. Jana Kraft

Second Advisor

Dr. Thomas Jetton


There is a crucial need to identify and test sustainable alternatives to fish oil as a means to supplement dietary omega (n-3) fatty acids which have demonstrated health benefits to humans with metabolic syndrome and its associated diseases. Echium oil has a high content of the n-3 fatty acid stearidonic acid (SDA), a precursor of the bioactive lipids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in fatty cold-water fish, with known or possible functions to improve metabolism and delay the onset of or prevent diabetes. To characterize the effects of dietary Echium oil (EO) vs. fish oil (FO), the oils were formulated into either a low-fat (10% kcal; LF) or high fat (60% kcal; HF) diabetogenic diet and fed to male C57BL/6 Tac mice for 12 weeks. Compared to the low-fat or high-fat controls without the supplementation of EO or FO, EO and FO diets had no effect on blood glucose concentrations or plasma insulin levels throughout the study. The EO-enriched HF diet improved glucose tolerance by week 12 compared to the HF-CON (p<0.05) and HF-FO (p<0.1) groups. EO supplementation reduced visceral fat weight without affecting body mass, promoted a metabolically favorable high polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) to saturated fatty acid (SFA) ratio in adipose and muscle tissues compared to the HF-CON and HF-FO diet groups, and led to higher tissue EPA and DHA concentrations compared to both LF and HF CON (p<0.1). Tissue EPA and DHA in EO were not as high as the concentrations found in mice fed the FO diets for both HF and LF. In conclusion, EO-supplemented diets in mice appear to have distinct effects from FO diets that may be exploited in future strategies to curtail metabolic disorders.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.