Treatment with the ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) docosahexanoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) exerts cardioprotective effects, and suppresses Ca2+-induced opening of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (MPTP). These effects are associated with increased DHA and EPA, and lower arachidonic acid (ARA) in cardiac phospholipids. While clinical studies suggest the triglyceride lowering effects of DHA and EPA are equivalent, little is known about the independent effects of DHA and EPA on mitochondria function. We compared the effects of dietary supplementation with the ω-3 PUFAs DHA and EPA on cardiac mitochondrial phospholipid fatty acid composition and Ca2+-induced MPTP opening. Rats were fed a standard lab diet with either normal low levels of ω-3 PUFA, or DHA or EPA at 2.5% of energy intake for 8 weeks, and cardiac mitochondria were isolated and analyzed for Ca2+-induced MPTP opening and phospholipid fatty acyl composition. DHA supplementation increased both DHA and EPA and decreased ARA in mitochondrial phospholipid, and significantly delayed MPTP opening as assessed by increased Ca2+ retention capacity and decreased Ca2+-induced mitochondria swelling. EPA supplementation increased EPA in mitochondrial phospholipids, but did not affect DHA, only modestly lowered ARA, and did not affect MPTP opening. In summary, dietary supplementation with DHA but not EPA, profoundly altered mitochondrial phospholipid fatty acid composition and delayed Ca2+-induced MPTP opening.
cardiac; eicosapentaenoic acid; docosahexaenoic acid; fish oil; heart; mitochondrial permeability transition pore
Mitochondria can depolarize and trigger cell death through the opening of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (MPTP). We recently showed that an increase in the long chain n3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n3) and depletion of the n6 PUFA arachidonic acid (ARA; 20:4n6) in mitochondrial membranes is associated with a greater Ca2+ load required to induce MPTP opening. Here we manipulated mitochondrial phospholipid composition by supplementing the diet with DHA, ARA or combined DHA+ARA in rats for 10 weeks. There were no effects on cardiac function, or respiration of isolated mitochondria. Analysis of mitochondrial phospholipids showed DHA supplementation increased DHA and displaced ARA in mitochondrial membranes, while supplementation with ARA or DHA+ARA increased ARA and depleted linoleic acid (18:2n6). Phospholipid analysis revealed a similar pattern, particularly in cardiolipin. Tetralinoleoyl cardiolipin was depleted by 80% with ARA or DHA+ARA supplementation, with linoleic acid side chains replaced by ARA. Both the DHA and ARA groups had delayed Ca2+-induced MPTP opening, but the DHA+ARA group was similar to the control diet. In conclusion, alterations in mitochondria membrane phospholipid fatty acid composition caused by dietary DHA or ARA was associated with a greater cumulative Ca2+ load required to induced MPTP opening. Further, high levels of tetralinoleoyl cardiolipin were not essential for normal mitochondrial function if replaced with very-long chain n3 or n6 PUFAs.
High saturated fat diets improve cardiac function and survival in rodent models of heart failure, which may be mediated by changes in mitochondrial function. Dietary supplementation with the n3-polyunsaturated fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n3) is also beneficial in heart failure and can affect mitochondrial function. Saturated fatty acids and DHA likely have opposing effects on mitochondrial phospholipid fatty acyl side chain composition and mitochondrial membrane function, though a direct comparison has not been previously reported. We fed healthy adult rats a standard low-fat diet (11% of energy intake from fat), a low-fat diet supplemented with DHA (2.3% of energy intake) or a high-fat diet comprised of long chain saturated fatty acids (45% fat) for 6 weeks. There were no differences among the three diets in cardiac mass or function, mitochondrial respiration, or Ca2+-induced mitochondrial permeability transition. On the other hand, there were dramatic differences in mitochondrial phospholipid fatty acyl side chains. Dietary supplementation with DHA increased DHA from 7% to ∼25% of total phospholipid fatty acids in mitochondrial membranes, and caused a proportional depletion of arachidonic acid (20:4n6). The saturated fat diet increased saturated fat and DHA in mitochondria and decreased linoleate (18:2n6), which corresponded to a decrease in Ca2+ uptake by isolated mitochondria compared to the other diet groups. In conclusion, despite dramatic changes in mitochondrial phospholipid fatty acyl side chain composition by both the DHA and high saturated fat diets, there were no effects on mitochondrial respiration, permeability transition, or cardiac function.
Cardiovascular; mitochondria; n3-polyunsaturated fatty acids; nutrition; phospholipid; saturated fatty acids
Supplementation with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from fish oil may prevent development of heart failure through alterations in cardiac phospholipids that favorably impact inflammation and energy metabolism. A high-fat diet may block these effects in chronically stressed myocardium. Pathological left ventricle (LV) hypertrophy was generated by subjecting rats to pressure overload by constriction of the abdominal aorta. Animals were fed: (1) standard diet (10% of energy from fat), (2) standard diet with EPA+DHA (2.3% of energy intake as EPA+DHA), (3) high fat (60% fat); or (4) high fat with EPA+DHA. Pressure overload increased LV mass by ≈40% in both standard and high-fat diets without fish oil. Supplementation with fish oil increased their incorporation into cardiac phospholipids, and decreased the proinflammatory fatty acid arachidonic acid and urine thromboxane B2 with both the standard and high-fat diet. Linoleic acid and tetralinoloyl cardiolipin (an essential mitochondrial phospholipid) were decreased with pressure overload on standard diet, which was prevented by fish oil. Animals fed high-fat diet had decreased linoleic acid and tetralinoloyl cardiolipin regardless of fish oil supplemention. Fish oil limited LV hypertrophy on the standard diet, and prevented upregulation of fetal genes associated with heart failure (myosin heavy chain-β and atrial natriuetic factor). These beneficial effects of fish oil were absent in animals on the high-fat diet. In conclusion, whereas treatment with EPA+DHA prevented tetralinoloyl cardiolipin depletion, LV hypertrophy, and abnormal genes expression with pressure overload, these effects were absent with a high-fat diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids; cardiac hypertrophy; heart failure; cardiolipin; phospolipids
Purpose of review
Recent evidence has linked n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) supplementation with dramatic alterations of mitochondrial phospholipid membranes and favorable changes in mitochondrial function. In the present review, we examine the novel effects of n-3 PUFA on mitochondria, with an emphasis on cardiac mitochondrial phospholipids.
There is growing evidence that dietary n-3 PUFA, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), has profound effects on mitochondrial membrane phospholipid composition and mitochondrial function. Supplementation with n-3 PUFA increases membrane phospholipid DHA and depletes arachidonic acid, and can increase cardiolipin, a tetra-acyl phospholipid that is unique to mitochondrial and essential for optimal mitochondrial function. Recent studies show that supplementation with DHA decreases propensity for cardiac mitochondria to undergo permeability transition, a catastrophic event often leading to cell death. This finding provides a potential mechanism for the cardioprotective effect of DHA. Interestingly, other n-3 PUFAs that modify membrane composition to a lesser extent have substantially less of an effect on mitochondria and do not appear to directly protect the heart.
Current data support a role for n-3 PUFA supplementation, particularly DHA, on mitochondria that are strongly associated with changes in mitochondrial phospholipid composition.
Clinical studies suggest that intake of ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω-3 PUFA) may lower the incidence of heart failure. Dietary supplementation with ω-3 PUFA exerts metabolic and anti-inflammatory effects that could prevent left ventricle (LV) pathology; however, it is unclear whether these effects occur at clinically relevant doses and whether there are differences between ω-3 PUFA from fish [eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)] and vegetable sources [α-linolenic acid (ALA)].
Methods and results
We assessed the development of LV remodelling and pathology in rats subjected to aortic banding treated with ω-3 PUFA over a dose range that spanned the intake of humans taking ω-3 PUFA supplements. Rats were fed a standard food or diets supplemented with EPA+DHA or ALA at 0.7, 2.3, or 7% of energy intake. Without supplementation, aortic banding increased LV mass and end-systolic and -diastolic volumes. ALA supplementation had little effect on LV remodelling and dysfunction. In contrast, EPA+DHA dose-dependently increased EPA and DHA, decreased arachidonic acid in cardiac membrane phospholipids, and prevented the increase in LV end-diastolic and -systolic volumes. EPA+DHA resulted in a dose-dependent increase in the anti-inflammatory adipokine adiponectin, and there was a strong correlation between the prevention of LV chamber enlargement and plasma levels of adiponectin (r = −0.78). Supplementation with EPA+DHA had anti-aggregatory and anti-inflammatory effects as evidenced by decreases in urinary thromboxane B2 and serum tumour necrosis factor-α.
Dietary supplementation with ω-3 PUFA derived from fish, but not from vegetable sources, increased plasma adiponectin, suppressed inflammation, and prevented cardiac remodelling and dysfunction under pressure overload conditions.
α-linolenic acid; Diet; Docosahexaenoic acid; Eicosapentaenoic acid; Heart failure
The interest in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) has expanded significantly in the last few years, due to their many positive effects described. Consequently, the interest in fish oil supplementation has also increased, and many different types of fish oil supplements can be found on the market. Also, it is well known that these types of fatty acids are very easily oxidized, and that stability among supplements varies greatly.
Aims of the study
In this pilot study we investigated the effects of two different types of natural fish oils containing different amounts of the n-3 PUFAs eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and antioxidants on plasma and brain fatty acids, blood lipids, vitamin E, and in vivo lipid peroxidation, as well as brain nitric oxide synthase (NOS) activity, an enzyme which has been shown to be important for memory and learning ability.
Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into four groups and fed regular rat chow pellets enriched with 5% (w/w) of butter (control group), a natural fish oil (17.4% EPA and 11.7% DHA, referred to as EPA-rich), and a natural fish oil rich in DHA (7.7% EPA and 28.0% DHA, referred to as DHA-rich). Both of the fish oils were stabilized by a commercial antioxidant protection system (Pufanox®) at production. The fourth group received the same DHA-rich oil, but without Pufanox® stabilization (referred to as unstable). As an index of stability of the oils, their peroxide values were repeatedly measured during 9 weeks. The dietary treatments continued until sacrifice, after 10 days.
Stability of the oils varied greatly. It took the two stabilized oils 9 weeks to reach the same peroxide value as the unstable oil reached after only a few days. Both the stabilized EPA- and DHA-rich diets lowered the triacylglycerols and total cholesterol compared to control (-45%, P < 0.05 and -54%, P < 0.001; -31%, P < 0.05 and -25%, P < 0.01) and so did the unstable oil, but less efficiently. Only the unstable oil increased in vivo lipid peroxidation significantly compared to control (+40%, P < 0.001). Most of the fatty acids in the plasma phospholipids were significantly affected by both the EPA- and DHA-rich diets compared to control, reflecting their specific fatty acid pattern. The unstable oil diet resulted in smaller changes, especially in n-3 PUFAs. In the brain phospholipids the changes were less pronounced, and only the diet enriched with the stabilized DHA-rich oil resulted in a significantly greater incorporation of DHA (+13%, P < 0.01), as well as total n-3 PUFAs (+13%, P < 0.01) compared to control. Only the stabilized DHA-rich oil increased the brain NOS activity (+33%, P < 0.01).
Both the EPA- and DHA-rich diets affected the blood lipids in a similarly positive manner, and they both had a large impact on plasma phospholipid fatty acids. It was only the unstable oil that increased in vivo lipid peroxidation. However, the intake of DHA was more important than that of EPA for brain phospholipid DHA enrichment and brain NOS activity, and the stability of the fish oil was also important for these effects.
Antioxidants; brain; DHA; EPA; fish oil; lipid peroxidation; nitric oxide synthase
In dogs, increasing the tissue n-3 fatty acid (FA) content is associated with potential benefit in some medical conditions, e.g. atopic dermatitis, cancer or heart disease. Therefore effectively and conveniently increasing tissue n-3 FA levels in dogs is of interest. Incorporation of dietary n-3 FA into cell membranes may be studied by FA analysis of erythrocyte membranes (EM), because of the correlation of its FA composition with the FA composition of other cells. Aim of the study was to determine whether an n-3 FA additive added to a control diet is as effective in increasing EM n-3 FA content as feeding an n-3 FA enriched diet. Furthermore the time course of the incorporation of dietary n-3 FA into canine EM was investigated.
Thirty dogs were randomly divided into three dietary groups with ten dogs per group. CONT got a dry dog food diet which did not contain EPA or DHA. FO got a dry dog food diet with a high EPA and DHA content. ADD got the CONT diet combined with an n-3 FA additive rich in DHA and EPA. After a feeding period of 12 weeks the additive was discontinued in ADD and these dogs were fed CONT diet for another four weeks to observe washout effects. Erythrocyte lipids were extracted from venous blood samples and their FA composition was determined by gas chromatography. The Mann-Whitney-U-test was used to detect significant differences between the different groups and time points.
After one week the proportions of n-3 FA, DHA and EPA were already significantly increased in ADD and FO, apparently reaching a plateau within eight weeks. In our study DHA and not EPA was preferably incorporated into the EM. After discontinuing the administration of the additive in ADD, the n-3 FA values declined slowly without reaching baseline levels within four weeks.
In dogs, an increase of dietary n-3 FA content leads to a rapid inclusion of n-3 FA into EM, regardless of whether the n-3 FA are offered as an enriched diet or as a normal diet supplemented with an n-3 FA additive.
eicosapentaenoic acid; dogs; PUFA; dietary manipulation
Dietary intake of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) has been reported to decrease several markers of lymphocyte activation and modulate monocyte susceptibility to apoptosis. However most human studies examined the combined effect of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) using relatively high daily amounts of n-3 PUFA. The present study investigated the effects of increasing doses of DHA added to the regular diet of human healthy volunteers on lymphocyte response to tetradecanoylphorbol acetate (TPA) plus ionomycin activation, and on monocyte apoptosis induced by oxidized LDL (oxLDL). Eight subjects were supplemented with increasing daily doses of DHA (200, 400, 800 and 1600mg) in a triacylglycerol form containing DHA as the only PUFA, for two weeks each dose. DHA intake dose-dependently increased the proportion of DHA in mononuclear cell phospholipids, the augmentation being significant after 400mg DHA/day. The TPA plus ionomycin-stimulated IL-2 mRNA level started to increase after ingestion of 400mg DHA/day, with a maximum after 800mg intake, and was positively correlated (P<0.003) with DHA enrichment in cell phospholipids. The treatment of monocytes by oxLDL before DHA supplementation drastically reduced mitochondrial membrane potential as compared with native LDL treatment. OxLDL apoptotic effect was significantly attenuated after 400mg DHA/day and the protective effect was maintained throughout the experiment, although to a lesser extent at higher doses. The present results show that supplementation of the human diet with low DHA dosages improves lymphocyte activability. It also increases monocyte resistance to oxLDL-induced apoptosis, which may be beneficial in the prevention of atherosclerosis.
DHA enrichment; interleukin-2; mitochondrial membrane potential; oxidized LDL
This review focuses on developments after 2008, when the topic was last reviewed by the author. Pertinent publications were found by medline searches and in the author’s personal data base. Prevention of atrial fibrillation (AF) was investigated in a number of trials, sparked by one positive report on the effects of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), considerations of upstream therapy, data from electrophysiologic laboratories and animal experiments. If EPA + DHA prevent postoperative AF, the effect is probably smaller than initially expected. The same is probably true for maintenance of sinus rhythm after cardioversion and for new-onset AF. Larger trials are currently ongoing. Prevention of ventricular arrhythmias was studied in carriers of an implanted cardioverter-defibrillator, with no clear results. This might have been due to a broad definition of the primary endpoint, including any ventricular arrhythmia and any action of the device. Epidemiologic studies support the contention that high levels of EPA + DHA prevent sudden cardiac death (SCD). However, since SCD is a rare occurrence, it is difficult to conduct an adequately powered trial. In patients with congestive heart failure, EPA + DHA reduced total mortality and rehospitalizations, but not SCD or presumed arrhythmic death. Of three trials in patients after a myocardial infarction, two were inadequately powered, and in one, the dose might have been too low. Taken together, while epidemiologic studies support an inverse relation between EPA + DHA and occurrence of SCD or arrhythmic death, demonstrating this effect in intervention trials remained elusive so far. A pro-arrhythmic effect of EPA + DHA has not been seen in intervention studies, and results of epidemiologic and animal studies also rather argue against such an effect. A different, and probably more productive, perspective is provided by a standardized analytical assessment of a person’s status in EPA + DHA by use of the omega-3 index, EPA + DHA in red cell fatty acids. In populations with a high omega-3 index, SCD is rare. Intervention trials can become more effective by including a low omega-3 index into the inclusion criteria, thus creating a study population more likely to demonstrate an effect of EPA + DHA. This is especially relevant in case of rare endpoints, like new-onset AF or SCD.
eicosapentaenoic acid; docosahexaenoic acid; omega-3 fatty acids; omega-3 index; atrial fibrillation; ventricular tachycardia; ventricular fibrillation; sudden cardiac death
Experimental studies suggest long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) may reduce risk of atrial fibrillation (AF). Prior studies evaluating fish or n-3 PUFA consumption from dietary questionnaires and incident AF have been conflicting. Circulating levels of n-3 PUFA provide an objective measurement of exposure.
Methods and Results
Among 3,326 US men and women age≥65y and free of AF or heart failure at baseline, plasma phospholipid levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were measured at baseline using standardized methods. Incident AF (789 cases) was prospectively identified from hospital discharge records and study visit electrocardiograms during 31,169 person-years of follow-up (1992-2006). In multivariable Cox models adjusted for other risk factors, the RR in the top versus lowest quartile of total n-3 PUFA (EPA+DPA+DHA) levels was 0.71 (95%CI=0.57-0.89, P-trend=0.004); and of DHA levels, 0.77 (95%CI=0.62-0.96, P-trend=0.01). EPA and DPA levels were not significantly associated with incident AF. Evaluated non-parametrically, both total n-3 PUFA and DHA showed graded and linear inverse associations with incidence of AF. Adjustment for intervening events such as heart failure or myocardial infarction during follow-up did not appreciably alter results.
In older adults, higher circulating total long-chain n-3 PUFA and DHA levels were associated with lower risk of incident AF. These results highlight the need to evaluate whether increased dietary intake of these fatty acids could be effective for primary prevention of AF.
atrial fibrillation; biomarkers; epidemiology; fatty acids
Bioavailability of omega-3 fatty acids (FA) depends on their chemical form. Superior bioavailability has been suggested for phospholipid (PL) bound omega-3 FA in krill oil, but identical doses of different chemical forms have not been compared.
In a double-blinded crossover trial, we compared the uptake of three EPA+DHA formulations derived from fish oil (re-esterified triacylglycerides [rTAG], ethyl-esters [EE]) and krill oil (mainly PL). Changes of the FA compositions in plasma PL were used as a proxy for bioavailability. Twelve healthy young men (mean age 31 y) were randomized to 1680 mg EPA+DHA given either as rTAG, EE or krill oil. FA levels in plasma PL were analyzed pre-dose and 2, 4, 6, 8, 24, 48, and 72 h after capsule ingestion. Additionally, the proportion of free EPA and DHA in the applied supplements was analyzed.
The highest incorporation of EPA+DHA into plasma PL was provoked by krill oil (mean AUC0-72 h: 80.03 ± 34.71%*h), followed by fish oil rTAG (mean AUC0-72 h: 59.78 ± 36.75%*h) and EE (mean AUC0-72 h: 47.53 ± 38.42%*h). Due to high standard deviation values, there were no significant differences for DHA and the sum of EPA+DHA levels between the three treatments. However, a trend (p = 0.057) was observed for the differences in EPA bioavailability. Statistical pair-wise group comparison's revealed a trend (p = 0.086) between rTAG and krill oil. FA analysis of the supplements showed that the krill oil sample contained 22% of the total EPA amount as free EPA and 21% of the total DHA amount as free DHA, while the two fish oil samples did not contain any free FA.
Further studies with a larger sample size carried out over a longer period are needed to substantiate our findings and to determine differences in EPA+DHA bioavailability between three common chemical forms of LC n-3 FA (rTAG, EE and krill oil). The unexpected high content of free EPA and DHA in krill oil, which might have a significant influence on the availability of EPA+DHA from krill oil, should be investigated in more depth and taken into consideration in future trials.
bioavailability; absorption; uptake; ethyl esters; re-esterified triacylglycerides; fish oil; krill oil
Bioactivities of Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) depend on their chemical forms. The present study was to investigate short term effects of triglyceride (TG), ethyl ester (EE), free fatty acid (FFA) and phospholipid (PL) forms of omega-3 fatty acid (FA) on lipid metabolism in mice, fed high fat or low fat diet.
Male Balb/c mice were fed with 0.7% different Omega-3 fatty acid formulation: DHA bound free fatty acid (DHA-FFA), DHA bound triglyceride (DHA-TG), DHA bound ethyl ester (DHA-EE) and DHA bound phospholipid (DHA-PL) for 1 week, with dietary fat levels at 5% and 22.5%. Serum and hepatic lipid concentrations were analyzed, as well as the fatty acid composition of liver and brain.
At low fat level, serum total cholesterol (TC) level in mice fed diets with DHA-FFA, DHA-EE and DHA-PL were significantly lower than that in the control group (P < 0.05). Hepatic TG level decreased significantly in mice fed diets with DHA-TG (P < 0.05), DHA-EE (P < 0.05) and DHA-PL (P < 0.05), while TC level in liver was significantly lower in mice fed diets with TG and EE compared with the control group (P < 0.05). At high fat level, mice fed diets with DHA-EE and DHA-PL had significantly lower hepatic TC level compared with the control diet (P < 0.05). Hepatic PL concentration experienced a significant increase in mice fed the diet with PL at high fat level (P < 0.05). Furthermore, both at low and high fat levels, hepatic DHA level significantly increased and AA level significantly decreased in all forms of DHA groups (P < 0.05), compared to control groups at two different fat levels, respectively. Additionally, cerebral DHA level in mice fed diets with DHA-FFA, DHA-EE and DHA-PL significantly increased compared with the control at high fat level (P < 0.05), but no significant differences were observed among dietary treatments for mice fed diets with low fat level.
The present study suggested that not only total dietary fat content but also the molecular forms of omega-3 fatty acids contributed to lipid metabolism in mice. DHA-PL showed effective bioactivity in decreasing hepatic and serum TC, TG levels and increasing omega-3 concentration in liver and brain.
Omega-3 fatty acid; DHA; EPA; Lipid metabolism; Triglycerides; Ethyl ester; Phospholipids
Long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n3-PUFA), including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA/20:5n-3), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA/22:5n-3), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA/22:6n-3), experimentally reduce cardiovascular risk. Yet, effects on cause-specific and total mortality and potential dose-responses remain controversial. Most observational studies have assessed self-reported dietary intakes, rather than objective biomarkers; while most randomized trials have tested effects of adding supplements to background dietary intake and evaluated secondary prevention, limiting inference for dietary n3-PUFA or primary prevention.
We investigated associations of plasma phospholipid EPA, DPA, DHA, and total n-3 PUFA with total and cause-specific mortality among generally healthy older adults not taking fish oil supplements.
Prospective cohort, 1992–2008.
Four U.S. communities.
2,692 U.S. adults age 75±5 years, free of prevalent coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, or heart failure.
Phospholipid fatty acids and cardiovascular risk factors were measured in 1992 using standardized methods. Relationships with total and cause-specific mortality through 2008, and incident total (fatal+nonfatal) CHD and stroke, were assessed using Cox proportional-hazards.
During 30,829 person-years, 1,625 deaths (including 570 cardiovascular deaths), 359 fatal and 371 nonfatal CHD events, and 130 fatal and 276 nonfatal strokes occurred. After multivariable-adjustment, n3-PUFA biomarkers associated with lower total mortality, with extreme-quintile hazard ratios (95% CI) of 0.83 for EPA (0.71–0.98), 0.77 for DPA (0.66–0.90), 0.80 for DHA (0.67–0.94), and 0.73 for total n3-PUFA (0.61–0.86) (P-trend≤0.008 each). Lower risk was largely attributable to fewer cardiovascular, rather than noncardiovascular, deaths, in particular fewer arrhythmic cardiac deaths (total n3-PUFA: hazard ratio=0.52, 95%CI=0.31–0.86; P-trend=0.008). Based on relations with total mortality, individuals in the highest quintile of phospholipid n3-PUFA, versus the lowest, experienced 2.22 greater years of life (95%CI=0.75–3.13) after age 65.
Temporal changes in fatty acid levels and misclassification of death causes may cause underestimated associations; and unmeasured/imperfectly measured covariates, residual confounding.
Circulating individual and total n3-PUFA are associated with lower total mortality, especially CHD death, in older adults.
Primary Funding Source
National Institutes of Health.
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids [ω-3 PUFAs, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)] from fish oil ameliorate cardiovascular diseases. However, little is known about the effects of ω-3 PUFAs on cardiac fibrosis, a major cause of diastolic dysfunction and heart failure. The current study assessed the effects of ω-3 PUFAs on cardiac fibrosis.
Methods and Results
We assessed left ventricular (LV) fibrosis and pathology in mice subjected to transverse aortic constriction (TAC) subsequent to the consumption of a fish oil or a control diet. In control mice, four weeks of TAC induced significant cardiac dysfunction, cardiac fibrosis and cardiac fibroblast activation (proliferation and transformation into myofibroblasts). Dietary supplementation with fish oil prevented TAC-induced cardiac dysfunction and cardiac fibrosis, and blocked cardiac fibroblast activation. In heart tissue, TAC increased active TGF-β1 levels and phosphorylation of Smad2. In isolated adult mouse cardiac fibroblasts, TGF-β1 induced cardiac fibroblast transformation, proliferation, and collagen synthesis. EPA and DHA increased cGMP levels and blocked cardiac fibroblast transformation, proliferation, and collagen synthesis. EPA and DHA blocked phospho-Smad2/3 nuclear translocation. DT3, a PKG inhibitor, blocked the anti-fibrotic effects of EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA increased phospho-eNOS and eNOS protein levels and nitric oxide production.
ω-3 fatty acids prevent cardiac fibrosis and cardiac dysfunction by blocking TGF-β1-induced phospho-Smad2/3 nuclear translocation through activation of the cGMP/PKG pathway in cardiac fibroblasts.
transverse aortic constriction; ω-3 fatty acids; cardiac fibrosis; cGMP/PKG
n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, namely docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and can ameliorate many of obesity-associated disorders. We hypothesised that the latter effect will be more pronounced when DHA/EPA is supplemented as phospholipids rather than as triglycerides.
In a ‘prevention study’, C57BL/6J mice were fed for 9 weeks on either a corn oil-based high-fat obesogenic diet (cHF; lipids ∼35% wt/wt), or cHF-based diets in which corn oil was partially replaced by DHA/EPA, admixed either as phospholipids or triglycerides from marine fish. The reversal of obesity was studied in mice subjected to the preceding cHF-feeding for 4 months. DHA/EPA administered as phospholipids prevented glucose intolerance and tended to reduce obesity better than triglycerides. Lipemia and hepatosteatosis were suppressed more in response to dietary phospholipids, in correlation with better bioavailability of DHA and EPA, and a higher DHA accumulation in the liver, white adipose tissue (WAT), and muscle phospholipids. In dietary obese mice, both DHA/EPA concentrates prevented a further weight gain, reduced plasma lipid levels to a similar extent, and tended to improve glucose tolerance. Importantly, only the phospholipid form reduced plasma insulin and adipocyte hypertrophy, while being more effective in reducing hepatic steatosis and low-grade inflammation of WAT. These beneficial effects were correlated with changes of endocannabinoid metabolome in WAT, where phospholipids reduced 2-arachidonoylglycerol, and were more effective in increasing anti-inflammatory lipids such as N-docosahexaenoylethanolamine.
Compared with triglycerides, dietary DHA/EPA administered as phospholipids are superior in preserving a healthy metabolic profile under obesogenic conditions, possibly reflecting better bioavalability and improved modulation of the endocannabinoid system activity in WAT.
The American Heart Association’s Strategic Impact Goal Through 2020 and Beyond recommends ≥ two 3.5-oz fish servings per week (preferably oily fish) partly to increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). We examined the intake of total fish, fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, α-linolenic acid, EPA, and DHA in U.S. adults (19 + years) using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003–2008.
Usual intakes from foods alone and from foods plus dietary supplements were determined using the methods from the National Cancer Institute.
Mean usual intake of total fish and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids was 0.61 ± 0.03 and 0.15 ± 0.03 oz/day, 0.43 and 0.07 respectively. Total fish and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids median intake was 0.43 and 0.07 oz/day, respectively. Intake from foods alone for ALA, EPA and DHA was 1.5 ± 0.01 g/d, 23 ± 7 mg/d and 63 ± 2 mg/d, respectively. ALA, EPA and DHA from food only median intakes were 1.4 g/d, 18 mg/d and 50 mg/d, respectively. Intake of ALA, EPA and DHA from foods and dietary supplements was 1.6 ± 0.04 g/d, 41 ± 4 mg/d and 72 ± 4 mg/d, respectively. While intakes of fish high in omega-3 fatty acids were higher in older adults (0.13 ± 0.01 oz/d for those 19–50 yrs and 0.19 ± 0.02 oz/d for those 51+ year; p < 0.01) and in males as compared to females (0.18 ± 0.02 vs 0.13 ± 0.01 oz/d, respectively; p < 0.05), few consumed recommended levels. Males also had higher (p < 0.05) intake of EPA and DHA from foods and dietary supplements relative to females (44 ± 6 vs 39 ± 4 and 90 ± 7 vs 59 ± 4 mg/d, respectively) and older adults had higher intakes of EPA, but not DHA compared to younger adults (EPA: 34 ± 3 vs 58 ± 9, p < 0.05; DHA: 68 ± 4 vs 81 ± 6, p < 0.05).
As omega-3 fatty acids are deemed important from authoritative bodies, supplementation in addition to food sources may need to be considered to help U.S. adults meet recommendations.
NHANES; Usual intake; Fish; Omega-3 fatty acids; EPA; DHA; Cardiovascular
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), upon incorporation into tumor tissue, has the potential to sensitize tumors to the effects of chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Although DHA has usually been supplied to tumor tissue in the diet, appropriate dietary conditions required to obtain optimal tumor levels have not been established. Hence, we studied mammary tumor tissue responses in rats fed various durations and doses of DHA. Rats fed a palm-oil enriched diet (diet 0) were switched to diets providing either 0.8 g DHA/d (diet 1) or 1.5 g DHA/d (diet 2). Tumor tissue fatty acid composition was analysed at baseline (diet 0), at weeks 1, 4 and 9 during diet 1 and at week 4 during diet 2. Dietary DHA supplementation differentially increased DHA within phospholipids (PL) and triacylglycerol (TAG) fractions in tumors. DHA level equilibrated between 2 and 4 weeks in PL while DHA increase was more progressive in TAG and did not reach a steady state. A higher dose of DHA further increased DHA content in tumor PL and TAG (P = 0.018 and P < 0.001 respectively). DHA concentration in plasma PL was positively correlated with DHA in tumor PL (r = 0.72; P = 0.0003) and TAG (r = 0.64; P = 0.003). We conclude that dietary DHA supplementation enhances tumor content of DHA in a time- and dose-dependent manner, and that DHA level in plasma PL could be used as a proxy for tumor DHA. These findings have implications for dietary DHA supplementations in cancer patients.
Animals; Carcinoma; chemically induced; metabolism; Dietary Fats; metabolism; Dietary Supplements; Docosahexaenoic Acids; blood; metabolism; Fatty Acids; metabolism; Female; Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental; chemically induced; metabolism; Methylnitrosourea; Phospholipids; metabolism; Rats; Rats, Sprague-Dawley; Tissue Distribution; Triglycerides; metabolism; DHA incorporation; dietary DHA supplementation; mammary tumors; tumor phospholipids; tumor triacylglycerol; plasma phospholipids
This research was conducted to explore the relationships between the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in serum phospholipid and key fatty acid ratios including potential cut-offs for risk factor assessment with respect to coronary heart disease and fatal ischemic heart disease.
Blood samples (n = 2053) were obtained from free-living subjects in North America and processed for determining the levels of total fatty acids in serum phospholipid as omega-3 fatty acids including EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid, 20:5 n-3) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, 22:6 n-3) by combined thin-layer and gas-liquid chromatographic analyses. The omega-3 levels were correlated with selected omega-6: omega-3 ratios including AA (arachidonic acid, 20:4n-6): EPA and AA:(EPA+DHA). Based on previously-published levels of omega-3 fatty acids considered to be in a 'lower risk' category for heart disease and related fatality, 'lower risk' categories for selected fatty acid ratios were estimated.
Strong inverse correlations between the summed total of omega-3 fatty acids in serum phospholipid and all four ratios (omega-6:omega-3 (n-6:n-3), AA:EPA, AA:DHA, and AA:(EPA+DHA)) were found with the most potent correlation being with the omega-6:omega-3 ratio (R2 = 0.96). The strongest inverse relation for the EPA+DHA levels in serum phospholipid was found with the omega-6: omega-3 ratio (R2 = 0.94) followed closely by the AA:(EPA+DHA) ratio at R2 = 0.88. It was estimated that 95% of the subjects would be in the 'lower risk' category for coronary heart disease (based on total omega-3 ≥ 7.2%) with omega-6:omega-3 ratios <4.5 and AA:(EPA+DHA) ratios <1.4. The corresponding ratio cut-offs for a 'lower risk' category for fatal ischemic heart disease (EPA+DHA ≥ 4.6%) were estimated at < 5.8 and < 2.1, respectively.
Strong inverse correlations between the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in serum (or plasma) phospholipid and omega-6: omega-3 ratios are apparent based on this large database of 2053 samples. Certain fatty acid ratios may aid in cardiovascular disease-related risk assessment if/when complete profiles are not available.
In patients with cirrhotic liver diseases, supplementation of linoleic acid and α-linolenic acid often does not alter the levels of arachidonic acid (AA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), suggesting the necessity to directly provide these nutrients.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled fashion, 9 cirrhotic patients listed for liver transplantation at Lahey Clinic Center were given daily supplementation with either 10 gel caps containing 500 mg of AA and 1000 mg of DHA (AA/DHA) or 250 mg of linolenic acid (LA) and 125 mg of oleic acid (OA; OA/LA) for 6 weeks. α-Tocopherol at 200 IU was provided daily. No other dietary prescription was made. Plasma fatty acid profiles were determined in triglyceride and phospholipids fractions. Plasma levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin 6 (IL-6), and soluble TNF receptor II (sTNFRII) were also measured.
Four patients receiving OA/LA and 5 patients receiving AA/DHA completed the study without evidence of any adverse effects or intolerance. The supplementation of LA, AA, and DHA effectively raised their levels in either one or both plasma lipid fractions in this limited number of subjects. DHA plus AA also lowered 22:4ω-6, 22:5ω-6, and 22:5ω-3, suggesting that DHA reduced the elongation and desaturation of AA and EPA.
It is feasible to improve the liver disease–associated deficiency of AA or DHA with modest intakes of AA and DHA. Whether this maneuver will affect the systemic inflammatory responsiveness and ultimately clinical outcome will require a large-scale and well-controlled intervention.
Omega-3 fatty acids confer beneficial health effects, but North Americans are lacking in their dietary omega-3-rich intake. Supplementation is an alternative to consumption of fish; however, not all omega-3 products are created equal. The trial objective was to compare the increases in blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids after consumption of four different omega-3 supplements, and to assess potential changes in cardiovascular disease risk following supplementation.
This was an open-label, randomized, cross-over study involving thirty-five healthy subjects. Supplements and daily doses (as recommended on product labels) were:
Concentrated Triglyceride (rTG) fish oil: EPA of 650 mg, DHA of 450 mg
Ethyl Ester (EE) fish oil: EPA of 756 mg, DHA of 228 mg
Phospholipid (PL) krill oil: EPA of 150 mg, DHA of 90 mg
Triglyceride (TG) salmon oil: EPA of 180 mg, DHA of 220 mg.
Subjects were randomly assigned to consume one of four products, in random order, for a 28-day period, followed by a 4-week washout period. Subsequent testing of the remaining three products, followed by 4-week washout periods, continued until each subject had consumed each of the products. Blood samples before and after supplementation were quantified for fatty acid analysis using gas chromatography, and statistically analysed using ANOVA for repeated measures.
At the prescribed dosage, the statistical ranking of the four products in terms of increase in whole blood omega-3 fatty acid levels was concentrated rTG fish oil > EE fish oil > triglyceride TG salmon oil > PL krill oil. Whole blood EPA percentage increase in subjects consuming concentrated rTG fish oil was more than four times that of krill and salmon oil. Risk reduction in several elements of cardiovascular disease was achieved to a greater extent by the concentrated rTG fish oil than by any other supplement. Krill oil and (unconcentrated) triglyceride oil were relatively unsuccessful in this aspect of the study.
For the general population, the form and dose of omega-3 supplements may be immaterial. However, given these results, the form and dose may be important for those interested in reducing their risk of cardiovascular disease.
Omega-3 supplements; Cardiovascular disease; Risk biomarkers
Background: The omega 3 fatty acids play an important role in many physiological processes. Their effect is well documented in neurodegenerative diseases and inflammatory diseases. Also, aging as a biophysiological process could be influenced by eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA) components of fish oil. However there are not many studies showing the effect of PUFA (polyunsaturated FA) suplementation in eldery brain functions and the response to oxidative strees. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on levels of lipid peroxidation and oxidant/antioxidant status of brain tissue in aged (24 months old) Wistar rats.
Methods: Animals were divided in two groups. Control group (n=8) was fed with standard laboratory food and received water ad libitum. Treated group (n=8) was also fed with standard laboratory food, water ad libitum and received fish oil capsules (EPA+DHA) for 6 weeks. Daily dose was 30mg EPA and 45mg DHA (capsules: 200mg EPA and 300mg DHA; in-house method). At the end of treatment animals were sacrificed and brains were collected and frozen on -80ºC. The levels of lipid peroxidation (malondialdehyde - MDA), activity of catalase (CAT) and activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD) were examined in cerebral cortex. Catalase activity was determined by measuring the decrease in absorbance (H2O2 degradation) at 240 nm for 3 min and expressed as U/mg protein. Total SOD (superoxide dismutase) activity was performed at room temperature according to the method of Misra and Fridovich. The extent of lipid peroxidation (LPO) was estimated as the concentration of thiobarbituric acid reactive product malondialdehyde (MDA) by using the method of Aruoma et al. The incorporation of fatty acids in cellular membranes was confirmed by gas chromatography.
Results: Our results showed that lipid peroxidation significantly decreased in treated animal group, where MDA concentration was 0.38±0.001 vs. 0.43±0.001 nM/ml (p<0.05) in control. However SOD activity increased significantly in treated animal group 1.57±0.24 vs. 4.12±0.15 U/gHb/L (p<0.01) in control. CAT activity decreased in treated group but not significantly.
Conclusion: Incorporation of omega-3 fatty acids after their supplementation had beneficial effects on brain tissue. Omega-3 fatty acids increased activity of SOD and decreased lipid peroxidation. Changes in oxidative/antioxidative balance are a result of EPA and DHA effects on lipids and enzymes of antioxidative system.
fish oil; omega 3 fatty acids; rats; aging; brain; oxidative stress
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) block apoptotic neuronal cell death and are strongly neuroprotective in acute and chronic neurodegeneration. Theoretical considerations, indirect data, and consideration of parsimony lead to the hypothesis that modulation of mitochondrial pathway(s) underlies at least some of the neuroprotective effects of n-3 PUFAs. We therefore systematically tested this hypothesis on healthy male FBFN1 rats fed for four weeks with isocaloric, 10% fat-containing diets supplemented with 1, 3, or 10% fish oil (FO). High resolution mass spectrometric analysis confirmed expected diet-driven increases in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6, n-3) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5, n-3) in sera, liver and nonsynaptosomal brain mitochondria. We further evaluated the resistance of brain and liver mitochondria to Ca2+ overload and prooxidants. Under these conditions, neither mitochondrial resistance to Ca2+ overload and prooxidants nor mitochondrial physiology is altered by diet, despite the expected incorporation of DHA and EPA in mitochondrial membranes and plasma. Collectively, the data eliminate one of the previously proposed mechanism(s) that n-3 PUFA induced augmentation of mitochondrial resistance to the oxidant/calcium-driven dysfunction. These data furthermore allow us to define a specific series of follow-up experiments to test related hypotheses about the effect of n-3 PUFAs on brain mitochondria.
There is overwhelming evidence that dietary supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), mainly EPA (C20:5n-3) and DHA (C22:6n-3), has cardiovascular protective effects on patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) but not on healthy people. Because the T2DM heart increases fatty acid oxidation (FAO) to compensate for the diminished utilization of glucose, we hypothesize that T2DM hearts consume more n-3 PUFAs and, therefore, need more n-3 PUFAs. In the present study, we investigated the changes in cardiac n-3 PUFAs and peroxisomal beta-oxidation, which are responsible for the degradation of PUFAs in a high-fat diet (HFD) and low-dose streptozotocin- (STZ) induced type 2 diabetic rat model.
Methods and results
The capillary gas chromatography results showed that all the n-3 (or omega-3) PUFAs, especially DHA (~50%) and EPA (~100%), were significantly decreased, and the n-6/n-3 ratio (~115%) was significantly increased in the hearts of diabetic rats. The activity of peroxisomal beta-oxidation, which is crucial to very-long-chain and unsaturated FA metabolism (including DHA), was significantly elevated in DM hearts. Additionally, the real-time PCR results showed that the mRNA expression of most peroxisomal beta-oxidation key enzymes were up-regulated in T2DM rat hearts, which might contribute to the reduction of n-3 (or omega-3) PUFAs.
In conclusion, our results indicate that T2DM hearts consume more n-3 PUFAs, especially DHA and EPA, due to exaggerated peroxisomal beta-oxidation.
n-3 PUFA; EPA; DHA; T2DM; FAO; Peroxisomal β-oxidation
While cardiovascular and mood benefits of dietary omega-3 fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are manifest, direct neurophysiological evidence of their effects on cortical activity is still limited. Hence we chose to examine the effects of two proprietary fish oil products with different EPA∶DHA ratios (EPA-rich, high EPA∶DHA; DHA-rich) on mental processing speed and visual evoked brain activity. We proposed that nonlinear multifocal visual evoked potentials (mfVEP) would be sensitive to any alteration of the neural function induced by omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, because the higher order kernel responses directly measure the degree of recovery of the neural system as a function of time following stimulation. Twenty-two healthy participants aged 18–34, with no known neurological or psychiatric disorder and not currently taking any nutritional supplementation, were recruited. A double-blind, crossover design was utilized, including a 30-day washout period, between two 30-day supplementation periods of the EPA-rich and DHA-rich diets (with order of diet randomized). Psychophysical choice reaction times and multi-focal nonlinear visual evoked potential (VEP) testing were performed at baseline (No Diet), and after each supplementation period. Following the EPA-rich supplementation, for stimulation at high luminance contrast, a significant reduction in the amplitude of the first slice of the second order VEP kernel response, previously related to activation in the magnocellular pathway, was observed. The correlations between the amplitude changes of short latency second and first order components were significantly different for the two supplementations. Significantly faster choice reaction times were observed psychophysically (compared with baseline performance) under the EPA-rich (but not DHA-rich) supplementation, while simple reaction times were not affected. The reduced nonlinearities observed under the EPA-rich diet suggest a mechanism involving more efficient neural recovery of magnocellular-like visual responses following cortical activation.