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Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are increased in plasma lipids and blood cell membranes in response to supplementation. Whilst arachidonic acid (AA) is correspondingly decreased, the effect on other fatty acids (FA) is less well described and there may be site-specific differences. In response to 12 months EPA + DHA supplementation in doses equivalent to 0-4 portions of oily fish/week (1 portion: 3.27 g EPA+DHA) multinomial regression analysis was used to identify important FA changes for plasma phosphatidylcholine (PC), cholesteryl ester (CE) and triglyceride (TAG) and for blood mononuclear cells (MNC), red blood cells (RBC) and platelets (PLAT). Dose-dependent increases in EPA + DHA were matched by decreases in several n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in PC, CE, RBC and PLAT, but were predominantly compensated for by oleic acid in TAG. Changes were observed for all FA classes in MNC. Consequently the n-6:n-3 PUFA ratio was reduced in a dose-dependent manner in all pools after 12 months (37%-64% of placebo in the four portions group). We conclude that the profile of the FA decreased in exchange for the increase in EPA + DHA following supplementation differs by FA pool with implications for understanding the impact of n-3 PUFA on blood lipid and blood cell biology.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





6281 - 6293


EPA and DHA supplementation, blood cell fatty acids, fatty acid displacement, n-3 fatty acid, n-6 fatty acid, plasma fatty acid fractions, Adult, Aged, Arachidonic Acid, Blood Cells, Blood Platelets, Cholesterol Esters, Dietary Supplements, Docosahexaenoic Acids, Eicosapentaenoic Acid, Erythrocytes, Fatty Acids, Omega-3, Fatty Acids, Omega-6, Female, Humans, Leukocytes, Mononuclear, Male, Middle Aged, Oleic Acid, Phospholipids, Plasma, Triglycerides, Young Adult