Comparison of the Incorporation of DHA in Circulatory and Neural Tissue When Provided as Triacylglycerol (TAG), Monoacylglycerol (MAG) or Phospholipids (PL) Provides New Insight into Fatty Acid Bioavailability

Nutrients. 2018 May 15;10(5):620. doi: 10.3390/nu10050620.


Phospholipids (PL) or partial acylglycerols such as sn-1(3)-monoacylglycerol (MAG) are potent dietary carriers of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) and have been reported to provide superior bioavailability when compared to conventional triacylglycerol (TAG). The main objective of the present study was to compare the incorporation of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in plasma, erythrocytes, retina and brain tissues in adult rats when provided as PL (PL-DHA) and MAG (MAG-DHA). Conventional dietary DHA oil containing TAG (TAG-DHA) as well as control chow diet were used to evaluate the potency of the two alternative DHA carriers over a 60-day feeding period. Fatty acid profiles were determined in erythrocytes and plasma lipids at time 0, 7, 14, 28, 35 and 49 days of the experimental period and in retina, cortex, hypothalamus, and hippocampus at 60 days. The assessment of the longitudinal evolution of DHA in erythrocyte and plasma lipids suggest that PL-DHA and MAG-DHA are efficient carriers of dietary DHA when compared to conventional DHA oil (TAG-DHA). Under these experimental conditions, both PL-DHA and MAG-DHA led to higher incorporations of DHA erythrocytes lipids compared to TAG-DHA group. After 60 days of supplementation, statistically significant increase in DHA level incorporated in neural tissues analyzed were observed in the DHA groups compared with the control. The mechanism explaining hypothetically the difference observed in circulatory lipids is discussed.

Keywords: docosahexaenoic acid; long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids; phospholipids; sn-1(3)-monoacylglycerol; triacylglycerol.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Availability
  • Body Composition
  • Diet
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / blood
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / blood
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids / blood
  • Fatty Acids / pharmacokinetics*
  • Male
  • Monoglycerides / administration & dosage
  • Monoglycerides / blood*
  • Phospholipids / administration & dosage
  • Phospholipids / blood*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sample Size
  • Soybean Oil / administration & dosage
  • Sunflower Oil / administration & dosage
  • Triglycerides / administration & dosage
  • Triglycerides / blood*
  • Weight Gain


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids
  • Monoglycerides
  • Phospholipids
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Triglycerides
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • cocoa butter
  • Soybean Oil
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid