Maresins are produced by macrophages from docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and exert potent proresolving and tissue homeostatic actions. Maresin 1 (MaR1; 7R,14S-dihydroxy-docosa-4Z,8E,10E,12Z,16Z,19Z-hexaenoic acid) is the first identified maresin. Here, we investigate formation, stereochemistry, and precursor role of 13,14-epoxy-docosahexaenoic acid, an intermediate in MaR1 biosynthesis. The 14-lipoxygenation of DHA by human macrophage 12-lipoxygenase (hm12-LOX) gave 14-hydro(peroxy)-docosahexaenoic acid (14-HpDHA), as well as several dihydroxy-docosahexaenoic acids, implicating an epoxide intermediate formation by this enzyme. Using a stereo-controlled synthesis, enantiomerically pure 13S,14S-epoxy-docosa-4Z,7Z,9E,11E,16Z,19Z-hexaenoic acid (13S,14S-epoxy-DHA) was prepared, and its stereochemistry was confirmed by NMR spectroscopy. When this 13S,14S-epoxide was incubated with human macrophages, it was converted to MaR1. The synthetic 13S,14S-epoxide inhibited leukotriene B4 (LTB4) formation by human leukotriene A4 hydrolase (LTA4H) ∼40% (P<0.05) to a similar extent as LTA4 (∼50%, P<0.05) but was not converted to MaR1 by this enzyme. 13S,14S-epoxy-DHA also reduced (∼60%; P<0.05) arachidonic acid conversion by hm12-LOX and promoted conversion of M1 macrophages to M2 phenotype, which produced more MaR1 from the epoxide than M1. Together, these findings establish the biosynthesis of the 13S,14S-epoxide, its absolute stereochemistry, its precursor role in MaR1 biosynthesis, and its own intrinsic bioactivity. Given its actions and role in MaR1 biosynthesis, this epoxide is now termed 13,14-epoxy-maresin (13,14-eMaR) and exhibits new mechanisms in resolution of inflammation in its ability to inhibit proinflammatory mediator production by LTA4 hydrolase and to block arachidonate conversion by human 12-LOX rather than merely terminating phagocyte involvement.
Keywords: DHA; inflammation resolution; leukocytes; n-3 omega essential fatty acids; proresolving mediators.