Individual differences in EPA and DHA content of Atlantic salmon are associated with gene expression of key metabolic processes

Sci Rep. 2019 Mar 7;9(1):3889. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-40391-2.


The aim of this study was to explore how individual differences in content of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in skeletal muscle of slaughter-sized Atlantic salmon, are associated with expression of genes involved in key metabolic processes. All experimental fish were fed the same diet throughout life and fasted for 14 days prior to slaughter. Still, there were relatively large individual variations in EPA and DHA content of skeletal muscle. Higher DHA content was concurrent with increased expression of genes of the glycolytic pathway and the production of pyruvate and lactate, whereas EPA was associated with increased expression of pentose phosphate pathway and glycogen breakdown genes. Furthermore, EPA, but not DHA, was associated with expression of genes involved in insulin signaling. Expression of genes specific for skeletal muscle function were positively associated with both EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA were also associated with expression of genes related to eicosanoid and resolvin production. EPA was negatively associated with expression of genes involved in lipid catabolism. Thus, a possible reason why some individuals have a higher level of EPA in the skeletal muscle is that they deposit - rather than oxidize - EPA for energy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / metabolism*
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism / genetics*
  • Gene Expression
  • Lipid Metabolism / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Salmo salar


  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid