Effects of supplemental long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and erythrocyte membrane fatty acid content on circulating inflammatory markers in a randomized controlled trial of healthy adults

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2014 Oct;91(4):161-8. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2014.07.006. Epub 2014 Jul 17.


The long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated (n-3 PUFA), eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), may have anti-inflammatory effects. We evaluated the dose-response effect of EPA+DHA supplementation on circulating TNF-α, IL-6, and CRP and explored associations between red blood cell (RBC) membrane PUFA content and TNF-α, IL-6, and CRP. Young adults with low fish intake (n=116) received one of five doses (0, 300, 600, 900, or 1,800 mg/d EPA+DHA) for 5 months. There were no significant effects of supplemental EPA+DHA on IL-6 or CRP; however, there was a marginal treatment effect for TNF-α (p<0.08). At baseline, higher quartiles of RBC DHA were associated with lower TNF-α (p=0.001); higher quartiles of arachidonic acid were associated with higher TNF-α (p=0.005). EPA+DHA supplementation had no dose-response effect on TNF-α, IL-6, or CRP in healthy young adults; however, associations between inflammatory markers and RBC PUFA warrant further investigation.

Keywords: C-reactive protein (CRP); Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA); Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA); Inflammation; Omega-3.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / therapeutic use
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood


  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Interleukin-6
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid