Effect of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acid on resting and exercise-induced inflammatory and oxidative stress biomarkers: a randomized, placebo controlled, cross-over study

Lipids Health Dis. 2009 Aug 19;8:36. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-8-36.


Background: The purpose of the present investigation was to determine the effects of EPA/DHA supplementation on resting and exercise-induced inflammation and oxidative stress in exercise-trained men. Fourteen men supplemented with 2224 mg EPA+2208 mg DHA and a placebo for 6 weeks in a random order, double blind cross-over design (with an 8 week washout) prior to performing a 60 minute treadmill climb using a weighted pack. Blood was collected pre and post exercise and analyzed for a variety of oxidative stress and inflammatory biomarkers. Blood lactate, muscle soreness, and creatine kinase activity were also measured.

Results: Treatment with EPA/DHA resulted in a significant increase in blood levels of both EPA (18 +/- 2 micromol x L(-1) vs. 143 +/- 23 micromol x L(-1); p < 0.0001) and DHA (67 +/- 4 micromol x L(-1) vs. 157 +/- 13 micromol x L(-1); p < 0.0001), while no differences were noted for placebo. Resting levels of CRP and TNF-alpha were lower with EPA/DHA compared to placebo (p < 0.05). Resting oxidative stress markers were not different (p > 0.05). There was a mild increase in oxidative stress in response to exercise (XO and H2O2) (p < 0.05). No interaction effects were noted. However, a condition effect was noted for CRP and TNF-alpha, with lower values with the EPA/DHA condition.

Conclusion: EPA/DHA supplementation increases blood levels of these fatty acids and results in decreased resting levels of inflammatory biomarkers in exercise-trained men, but does not appear necessary for exercise-induced attenuation in either inflammation or oxidative stress. This may be due to the finding that trained men exhibit a minimal increase in both inflammation and oxidative stress in response to moderate duration (60 minute) aerobic exercise.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Mass Index
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / administration & dosage*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / blood
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / blood
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Exercise*
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Male
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Physical Fitness
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid