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Lipids. 2010 May;45(5):375-84. doi: 10.1007/s11745-010-3406-3. Epub 2010 Apr 4.

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and docosapentaenoic acid (DPAn-6) algal oils reduce inflammatory mediators in human peripheral mononuclear cells in vitro and paw edema in vivo.

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Martek Biosciences Corporation, 6480 Dobbin Road, Columbia, MD 21045, USA.


The anti-inflammatory activity associated with fish oil has been ascribed to the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA), predominantly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Here we examined the anti-inflammatory effects of two DHA-rich algal oils, which contain little EPA, and determined the contribution of the constituent fatty acids, particularly DHA and docosapentaenoic acid (DPAn-6). In vitro, lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated Interleukin-1 beta (IL-1beta) and Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) secretion in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) was inhibited with apparent relative potencies of DPAn-6 (most potent) > DHA > EPA. In addition, DPAn-6 decreased intracellular levels of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and was a potent inhibitor of pro-inflammatory prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production. DHA/DPAn-6-rich DHA-S (DHA-S) algal oil was more effective at reducing edema in rats than DHA-rich DHA-T (DHA-T), suggesting that DPAn-6 has anti-inflammatory properties. Further in vivo analyses demonstrated that feeding DPAn-6 alone, provided as an ethyl ester, reduced paw edema to an extent approaching that of indomethacin and enhanced the anti-inflammatory activity of DHA when given in combination. Together, these results demonstrate that DPAn-6 has anti-inflammatory activity and enhances the effect of DHA in vitro and in vivo. Thus, DHA-S algal oil may have potential for use in anti-inflammatory applications.

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