A Study of the Differential Effects of Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) on Gene Expression Profiles of Stimulated Thp-1 Macrophages

Nutrients. 2017 Apr 25;9(5):424. doi: 10.3390/nu9050424.


Background: An appropriate intake of omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids (FAs) such as eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acid (EPA/DHA) from marine sources is known to have anti-inflammatory effects. However, molecular mechanisms underlying their beneficial effects on health are not fully understood. The aim of the present study was to characterize gene expression profiles of THP-1 macrophages, incubated in either EPA or DHA and stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a pro-inflammatory agent. Methods: THP-1 macrophages were incubated into 10, 50 and 75 µM of EPA or DHA for 24 h, and 100 nM of LPS was added to the culture media for 18 h. Total mRNA was extracted and gene expression examined by microarray analysis using Illumina Human HT-12 expression beadchips (Illumina). Results: Pathway analysis revealed that EPA and DHA regulate genes involved in cell cycle regulation, apoptosis, immune response and inflammation, oxidative stress and cancer pathways in a differential and dose-dependent manner. Conclusions: EPA and DHA appear to exert differential effects on gene expression in THP-1 macrophages. Specific effects of n-3 FAs on gene expression levels are also dose-dependent.

Keywords: gene expression; inflammation; mRNA; microarrays; omega-3 fatty acids.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Macrophages / drug effects*
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • THP-1 Cells
  • Transcriptome / drug effects*


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid