Omega 3 fatty acids promote macrophage reverse cholesterol transport in hamster fed high fat diet

PLoS One. 2013 Apr 22;8(4):e61109. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0061109. Print 2013.


The aim of this study was to investigate macrophage reverse cholesterol transport (RCT) in hamster, a CETP-expressing species, fed omega 3 fatty acids (ω3PUFA) supplemented high fat diet (HFD). Three groups of hamsters (n = 6/group) were studied for 20 weeks: 1) control diet: Control, 2) HFD group: HF and 3) HFD group supplemented with ω3PUFA (EPA and DHA): HFω3. In vivo macrophage-to-feces RCT was assessed after an intraperitoneal injection of (3)H-cholesterol-labelled hamster primary macrophages. Compared to Control, HF presented significant (p<0.05) increase in body weight, plasma TG (p<0.01) and cholesterol (p<0.001) with an increase in VLDL TG and in VLDL and LDL cholesterol (p<0.001). Compared to HF, HFω3 presented significant decrease in body weight. HFω3 showed less plasma TG (p<0.001) and cholesterol (p<0.001) related to a decrease in VLDL TG and HDL cholesterol respectively and higher LCAT activity (p<0.05) compared to HF. HFω3 showed a higher fecal bile acid excretion (p<0.05) compared to Control and HF groups and higher fecal cholesterol excretion (p<0.05) compared to HF. This increase was related to higher gene expression of ABCG5, ABCA1 and SR-B1 in HFω3 compared to Control and HF groups (<0.05) and in ABCG1 and CYP7A1 compared to HF group (p<0.05). A higher plasma efflux capacity was also measured in HFω3 using (3)H- cholesterol labeled Fu5AH cells. In conclusion, EPA and DHA supplementation improved macrophage to feces reverse cholesterol transport in hamster fed HFD. This change was related to the higher cholesterol and fecal bile acids excretion and to the activation of major genes involved in RCT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / drug effects
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • CD36 Antigens / metabolism
  • Cholesterol / metabolism*
  • Cholesterol Ester Transfer Proteins / metabolism
  • Cricetinae
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology*
  • Feces
  • Macrophages / drug effects*
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Phosphatidylcholine-Sterol O-Acyltransferase / metabolism


  • CD36 Antigens
  • Cholesterol Ester Transfer Proteins
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Cholesterol
  • Phosphatidylcholine-Sterol O-Acyltransferase

Grants and funding

This work was supported by CRNH (Centre de Recherche en Nutrition Humaine, Nantes) and research program NUPEM supported by Region Pays de la Loire. The ω3 polyunsaturated fatty acids were provided by Pierre Fabre Santé. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.