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Mice fed conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) lose body fat. This loss of body fat is accompanied by an increases in DNA fragmentation, indicative of apoptosis or programmed cell death. Adipose apoptosis was observed in mice fed the trans-10, cis-12 isomer or a mixture of isomers but not the cis-9,trans-11 isomer. The trans-10,cis-12 isomer also induced DNA fragmentation in preadipocytes in vitro, but not mature adipocytes. The cis-9,trans-11 CLA isomer, the predominant isomer in ruminant-derived products, was reported to induce apoptosis of cancer cells. Determining the mechanism of action of CLA will improve our understanding of body fat regulation.