Elevated levels of pro-inflammatory oxylipins in older subjects are normalized by flaxseed consumption

Exp Gerontol. 2014 Nov:59:51-7. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2014.04.005. Epub 2014 Apr 18.


Background and aims: Oxylipins, including eicosanoids, are highly bioactive molecules endogenously produced from polyunsaturated fatty acids. Oxylipins play a key role in chronic disease progression. It is possible, but unknown, if oxylipin concentrations change with the consumption of functional foods or differ with subject age.

Methods: Therefore, in a parallel comparator trial, 20 healthy individuals were recruited into a younger (19-28years) or older (45-64years) age group (n=10/group). Participants ingested one muffin/day containing 30g of milled flaxseed (6g alpha-linolenic acid) for 4weeks. Plasma oxylipins were isolated through solid phase extraction, analyzed with HPLC-MS/MS targeted lipidomics, and quantified with the stable isotope dilution method.

Results: At baseline, the older group exhibited 13 oxylipins ≥2-fold the concentration of the younger group. Specifically, pro-inflammatory oxylipins 5-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid, 9,10,13-trihydroxyoctadecenoic acid, and 9,12,13-trihydroxyoctadecenoic acid were significantly greater in the older (1.1±0.23nM, 5.6±0.84nM, and 4.5±0.58nM, respectively) versus the younger group (0.34±0.12nM, 3.5±0.33nM, and 3.0±0.24nM, respectively) (p<0.05). After 4weeks of flaxseed consumption the number of oxylipins that were ≥2-fold higher in the older versus the younger group was reduced to 3. 5-Hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid, 9,10,13-trihydroxyoctadecenoic acid, and 9,12,13-trihydroxyoctadecenoic acid decreased in the older group to concentrations equivalent to the younger group after flaxseed consumption.

Conclusion: These data suggest a potential role for oxylipins in the aging process and how nutritional interventions like flaxseed can beneficially disrupt these biological changes associated with inflammation and aging.

Keywords: Aging; Alpha-linolenic acid; Eicosanoids; Lipidomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aging / blood*
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Flax*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxylipins / blood*
  • Seeds*
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Young Adult


  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Oxylipins