A Diet Rich in Unsaturated Fatty Acids Prevents Progression Toward Heart Failure in a Rabbit Model of Pressure and Volume Overload

Hester M. Den Ruijter, Arie O. Verkerk, Cees A. Schumacher, Sander M. Houten, Charly N. W. Belterman, Antonius Baartscheer, Ingeborg A. Brouwer, Marc van Bilsen, Baukje de Roos, Ruben Coronel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background-During heart failure (HF), cardiac metabolic substrate preference changes from fatty acid (FA) toward glucose oxidation. This change may cause progression toward heart failure. We hypothesize that a diet rich in FAs may prevent this process, and that dietary omega 3-FAs have an added antiarrhythmic effect based on action potential (AP) shortening in animals with HF.

Methods and Results-Rabbits were fed a diet containing 1.25% (w/w) high oleic sunflower oil (HF-omega 9, N=11), 1.25% fish oil (HF-omega 3, N=11), or no supplement (HF-control, N=8). Subsequently, HF was induced by volume and pressure overload. After 4 months, HF-parameters were assessed, electrocardiograms were recorded, and blood and ventricular tissue were collected. Myocytes were isolated for patch clamp or intracellular Ca2+-recordings to study electrophysiologic remodeling and arrhythmogenesis. Both the HF-omega 9 and the HF-omega 3 groups had larger myocardial FA oxidation capacity than HF control. The HF-omega 3 group had significantly lower mean (+/- SEM) relative heart and lung weight (3.3 +/- 0.13 and 3.2 +/- 0.12 g kg(-1), respectively) than HF control (4.8 +/- 0.30 and 4.5 +/- 0.23), and shorter QTc intervals (167 +/- 2.6 versus 182 +/- 6.4). The HF-omega 9 also displayed a significantly reduced relative heart weight (3.6 +/- 0.26), but had similar QTc (179 +/- 4.3) compared with HF control. AP duration in the HF-omega 3 group was approximate to 20% shorter due to increased I-to1 and I-K1 and triggered activity, and Ca2+-aftertransients were less than in the HF-omega 9 group.

Conclusions-Dietary unsaturated FAs started prior to induction of HF prevent hypertrophy and HF. In addition, fish oil FAs prevent HF-induced electrophysiologic remodeling and arrhythmias. (Circ Heart Fail. 2012;5:376-384.)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-384
Number of pages9
JournalCirculation. Heart Failure
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • heart failure
  • nutrition
  • lipids
  • remodeling heart failure
  • electrophysiology


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