1. In an attempt to explain the antagonism between polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and vitamin E in the promotion of post-mortem autolysis and increased lysosomal fragility in the kidney of rats, studies were made by gas chromatography of the incorporation of PUFA into the lysosomes.
2. Kidneys were taken from rats that had received various diets, which differed in their fat components and which were with or without vitamin E. Since the inclusion of cod-liver oil in the diet reduces the period of dietary preparation necessary for rapid kidney autolysis, the effect of this oil on the PUFA distribution in the lysosomes was specially studied.
3. In purified preparations of kidney lysosomes from rats that had received substantial amounts of cod-liver oil for several weeks, C 20:5 acid was incorporated mainly at the expense of C 18:2 (linoleic) and C 20:4 (arachidonic) acids. In less purified lysosomal fractions the incorporation of C 20:5 and C 22:6 acids and the corresponding reductions in linoleic and arachidonic were well advanced after 10 days, but were not maximal until about 30 days. The same changes took place in the reverse direction, with about the same rapidity, when rats that had previously been given cod-liver oil were changed to a diet containing lard.
4. The percentage of PUFA in the kidney lysosomes of rats not dosed with vitamin E was not significantly different from that of rats given adequate doses.
5. Thus the increased tendency to kidney autolysis, and the reduced stability of the lysosomes, caused by the feeding of cod-liver oil were associated with the partial replacement of linoleic acid and of the endogenous arachidonic acid by an acid, usually foreign to the rat, which is even more unsaturated. Since vitamin E did not prevent the entry of this acid into the lysosomes its potency in retarding autolysis and stabilizing the lysosomes must be exerted at some point subsequent to the incorporation of PUFA.
6. Since change in the percentage of lysosomal PUFA in response to dietary changes is slow, this suggests that the lysosornal lipidsescape usage in general metabolism as an immediate source of calories and that they have a half-life of at least 15 days. Individual fatty acids, however, may differ in their half-lives.