Consumption of different sources of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids by growing female rats affects long bone mass and microarchitecture

Bone. 2011 Sep;49(3):455-62. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2011.05.029. Epub 2011 Jun 6.


Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω-3 PUFAs) consumption has been reported to improve bone health. However, sources of ω-3 PUFAs differ in the type of fatty acids and structural form. The study objective was to determine the effect of various ω-3 PUFAs sources on bone during growth. Young (age 28d) female Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned (n=10/group) to a high fat 12% (wt) diet consisting of either corn oil (CO) or ω-3 PUFA rich, flaxseed (FO), krill (KO), menhaden (MO), salmon (SO) or tuna (TO) for 8 weeks. Bone mass was assessed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and bone microarchitecture by micro-computed tomography (μCT). Bone turnover markers were measured by enzyme immunoassay. Lipid peroxidation was measured by calorimetric assays. Results showed that rats fed TO, rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6ω-3) had higher (P<0.009) tibial bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (BMC) and lower (P=0.05) lipid peroxidation compared to the CO-fed rats. Reduced lipid peroxidation was associated with increased tibial BMD (r2=0.08, P=0.02) and BMC (r2=0.71, P=0.01). On the other hand, rats fed FO or MO, rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, 18:3ω-3), improved bone microarchitecture compared to rats fed CO or SO. Serum osteocalcin was higher (P=0.03) in rats fed FO compared to rats fed SO. Serum osteocalcin was associated with improved trabecular bone microarchitecture. The animal study results suggest consuming a variety of ω-3 PUFA sources to promote bone health during the growth stage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Animals
  • Bone Density / drug effects*
  • Bone and Bones / chemistry
  • Bone and Bones / drug effects*
  • Bone and Bones / ultrastructure*
  • Corn Oil / pharmacology
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Fish Oils / pharmacology
  • Linseed Oil / pharmacology
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances / metabolism
  • X-Ray Microtomography


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Oils
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances
  • Linseed Oil
  • Corn Oil