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J Lipid Res. 1999 Oct;40(10):1867-74.

Blood compartmental metabolism of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in humans after ingestion of a single dose of [(13)C]DHA in phosphatidylcholine.

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INSERM U352, Biochimie & Pharmacologie, INSA-Lyon, Villeurbanne, France.


The amount and distribution of [(13)C]docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in plasma, platelet, and erythrocyte lipid classes were followed as a function of time (1 to 72 h) in young adults after ingestion of a single dose of [(13)C]DHA esterified in a phosphatidylcholine (PC), in using gas chromatography combustion;-isotope ratio mass spectrometry. [(13)C]DHA first appeared in plasma non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) and triglycerides (TG), with a maximal appearance at 6 h and a further decline, then being delayed 3-fold compared to [(13)C]DHA ingested in triglycerides. Lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) was also enriched in [(13)C]DHA, due mainly to earlier hepatic secretion, and plateaued at 6 h, whereas phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) and phosphatidylcholine (PC) containing [(13)C]DHA plateaued at 9 h. The labeling of erythrocyte and platelet phospholipids exhibited different kinetics, probably involving different metabolic pathways for [(13)C]DHA incorporation in cell membranes. Computation of the relative contribution of LPC and NEFA for delivery of [(13)C]DHA to blood cells showed that the supply to platelets occurred through NEFA. In contrast, [(13)C]DHA was carried by both LPC and NEFA to erythrocytes, which differs from what was previously been observed after intake of triglycerides labeled with [(13)C]DHA where LPC was the only source of [(13)C]DHA for erythrocytes. We conclude that the lipid form of ingested DHA affects markedly its kinetics and partly its metabolic fate.

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