Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation influences the whole blood transcriptome in women with obesity, associated with pro-resolving lipid mediator production

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016 Nov;1861(11):1746-1755. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2016.08.005. Epub 2016 Aug 12.


The n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may reduce low-grade inflammation associated with obesity. The relationship between therapeutic response to n-3 PUFAs and modification of the transcriptome in obesity or metabolic syndrome remains to be explored. Blood samples were obtained from women with obesity before and after three-months supplementation with a moderate dose of n-3 PUFAs (1.8g EPA+DHA per day) or from controls. n-3 PUFAs (GC) and plasma concentrations of lipoxins, resolvins, protectin X (GC-MS/MS) and inflammatory markers (ELISA) were measured. Whole blood transcriptome was assayed using microarray. Women supplemented with n-3 PUFAs for 3months had significantly higher levels of EPA and DHA in plasma phosphatidylcholine. n-3 PUFA supplementation, in contrast to placebo, significantly decreased the concentrations of several inflammatory markers (SELE, MCP-1, sVCAM-1, sPECAM-1, and hsCRP), fasting triglycerides and insulin and increased the concentrations of pro-resolving DHA derivatives in plasma. The microarray data demonstrated effects of n-3 PUFAs on PPAR-α, NRF2 and NF-κB target genes. N-3 PUFAs increased DHA-derived pro-resolving mediators in women with obesity. Elevated resolvins and up-regulation of the resolvin receptor occurred in parallel with activation of PPAR-α target genes related to lipid metabolism and of NRF2 up-regulated antioxidant enzymes.

Keywords: DHA and EPA supplementation; Human obesity; Inflammation; Microarray; Pro-resolving mediators.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Lipids / biosynthesis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood*
  • Obesity / genetics*
  • Transcriptome / genetics*


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Lipids