Date of Award




Faculty Advisor

Hales, Dale B.



Previous research using the chicken model has provided evidence that a flaxseed-supplemented diet decreases both the severity and the incidence of ovarian cancer. Flaxseed is a source of omega-3 (OM3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), particularly α-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is converted into longer chain OM3s, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which inhibit prostaglandins, thereby inhibiting oxidative stress, inflammation, angiogenesis, and proliferation. The dietary fiber component of flaxseed can be fermented in the gut to produce short chain fatty acids (SCFA). Butyric acid, a commonly studied SCFA, has been shown be an important metabolic regulator by acting as a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor, a transcriptional modulator, as well as an anti-inflammatory molecule. In order to determine whether or not PUFA and butyric acid are upregulated by flaxseed supplementation in the chicken ovaries, the concentrations of each were quantified using gas chromatographic analysis. The amount of fatty acids in each sample were normalized to total protein content. Hens on a flaxseed-supplemented diet displayed an increase in the ratio of OM3:OM6 PUFA when compared to the control diet. Likewise, the concentrations of butyric acid were also increased in ovaries of hens fed a flaxseed-supplemented diet in comparison to hens that were fed a control diet. Moreover, butyric acid was significantly decreased in both the ovaries and ceca by ovarian cancer. These observations give us insight into the possible role of flaxseed in modulating metabolic activity through an upregulation of SCFA and OM3 PUFA in the ovaries.