Health benefits of dietary marine DHA/EPA-enriched glycerophospholipids

Prog Lipid Res. 2019 Jul;75:100997. doi: 10.1016/j.plipres.2019.100997. Epub 2019 Aug 20.


A typical feature of marine foods is that they are rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which have formed a large-scale global industry. DHA/EPA phospholipids (PLs) are ubiquitous in marine foods and are the main DHA/EPA molecular forms in fish roe, shrimp and shellfish. Much attention has been focused on the bioavailability and health benefits that are influenced by the type and esterified form of dietary fatty acids. Recently, numerous findings have suggested that dietary DHA/EPA-PLs are superior to the triacylglycerol (TAG) or ethyl ester forms in exerting their functional properties through specific mechanisms of action. However, there is no comprehensive review covering the health benefits of dietary marine DHA/EPA-enriched PLs. In this paper, we review publications on the nutritional functions of DHA/EPA-enriched glycerophospholipids, including the effects on brain function, antitumor activity, lipid metabolism, and glucose metabolism. The current research status regarding the active ingredients, sources, models, treatment, duration, and mechanisms are presented. In addition, the way in which the structure-activity relationship of DHA/EPA-PLs is affected by ester-bond structure at the sn-1 position, fatty acid at the sn-2 position and polar head group at the sn-3 position is also reviewed. DHA/EPA-PLs are one of the major n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid dietary forms in our diet, and we should maximize the ability to fully exploit the nutritional properties of DHA/EPA.

Keywords: DHA/EPA-enriched glycerophospholipids; Health benefits; Mechanism; Structure-activity relationship.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Aquatic Organisms / chemistry*
  • Biological Availability
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / pharmacokinetics*
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / pharmacokinetics*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid