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Effects that Omega 3 and Omega 6 Dietary Ratios have on Cellular Stress in C. elegans
Advisorvan der Linden, Alexander M.
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Our Western diet, which is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids and has excessive omega- 6 fatty acids, has been highly correlated with the central nervous system and metabolic disorders (Western diseases). However, it is unclear how dietetic omega fatty acids affect these disorders. In this study, I investigated whether omega 3:6 fatty acid ratios influence cellular stress and autophagy processes in the genetic model system Caenorhabditis elegans, as these processes are strongly linked to fat metabolism and have been reported to affect many of the same disorders. Unlike humans, C. elegans are able to synthesize their own omega-6:3 fatty acids. Therefore, to study the effects of dietary PUFAs and their ratios similarity to Western diets on autophagy in C. elegans, I used a strain deficient in the synthesis of both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids that carries an autophagy marker (GFP::lgg-1). To generate this strain, I created animals with mutations in fat-1 (required for omega-3 synthesis) that carry the GFP::lgg-1 transgene and conducted fat-2 RNA interference (RNAi) on these animals (fat-2 is required for omega-6 synthesis). I used stateof- the art imaging and analytical tools to visualize and quantify autophagy in fat-1; fat- 2(RNAi); GFP::lgg-1 animals when exposed to five different ratios of omega-6:3 fatty acids. I found that a dietary ratio of omega-3:6 fatty acids (5:1) produced the least amount of autophagy, whereas a dietary ratio of omega-3:6 fatty acids (1:15 or 1:1) produced the most autophagy in the fat-1; fat-2(RNAi); GFP::lgg-1worms. Further studies of a balanced ratio of omega-3:6 fatty acids may allow us to design strategies and ways to prevent Western diseases that are correlated to Western diets.