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Effects of a 12-week high-α-linolenic acid intervention on EPA and DHA concentrations in red blood cells and plasma oxylipin pattern in subjects with a low EPA and DHA status

Abstract

The essential omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, 18:3n3) can be converted into EPA and DHA. The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of a high-ALA diet on EPA and DHA levels in red blood cells (RBCs) and their oxylipins in plasma of subjects with a low EPA and DHA status. Fatty acid concentrations [µg/mL] and relative amounts [% of total fatty acids] in RBCs of 19 healthy men (mean age 26.4±4.6 years) were analyzed by means of GC-FID. Free plasma oxylipin concentrations were determined by LC-MS based targeted metabolomics. Samples were collected and analyzed at baseline (wk0), after 1 (wk1), 3 (wk3), 6 (wk6), and 12 (wk12) weeks of high dietary ALA intake (13.5±1.9 g per day). ALA concentrations significantly (p<0.001) increased from 1.44±0.10 (wk0) to 4.65±0.22 (wk1), 5.47±0.23 (wk3), 6.25±0.24 (wk6), and 5.80±0.28 (wk12) µg/ml. EPA concentrations increased from 6.13±0.51 (wk0) to 7.33±0.33 (wk1), 8.38±0.42 (p=0.021, wk3), 10.9±0.67 (p<0.001, wk6), and 11.0±0.64 (p<0.001, wk12) µg/ml. DHA concentrations unexpectedly decreased from 41.0±1.93 (wk0) to 37.0±1.32 (wk1), 36.1±1.37 (wk3), 35.1±1.06 (p=0.010, wk6), and 30.4±1.09 (p<0.001, wk12) µg/ml. Relative ΣEPA+DHA amounts were unchanged during the intervention (wk0: 4.63±0.19, wk1: 4.67±0.16, wk3: 4.61±0.13, wk6: 4.73±0.15, wk12: 4.52±0.11). ALA und EPA-derived hydroxy- and dihydroxy-PUFA increased similar to their PUFA precursors, although in case of ALA-derived oxylipins concentrations increased less rapidly and to a lower extend compared to the concentration of their precursor FA. LA-derived oxylipins remained unchanged and arachidonic acid and DHA oxylipin concentrations were not significantly changed. Our results confirm that the intake of ALA is no sufficient source for the increase of EPA+DHA in subjects on a Western diet. Specifically, a high-ALA diet results in increased EPA and declined DHA concentrations. However, the changes effectively balance each other so that ΣEPA+DHA in RBCs – which is an established marker for health protective effects of omega-3-PUFA – remains constant. PUFA levels in RBCs reflect the concentration and its changes in plasma hydroxy- and dihydroxy-PUFA concentrations for ALA and EPA.

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Publication details

The article was received on 16 Nov 2017, accepted on 26 Jan 2018 and first published on 15 Feb 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7FO01809F
Citation: Food Funct., 2018, Accepted Manuscript
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY license
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    Effects of a 12-week high-α-linolenic acid intervention on EPA and DHA concentrations in red blood cells and plasma oxylipin pattern in subjects with a low EPA and DHA status

    T. Greupner, L. Kutzner, F. Nolte, A. Strangmann, H. Kohrs, A. Hahn, N. H. Schebb and J. P. Schuchardt, Food Funct., 2018, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/C7FO01809F

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