A review of the functional effects of pine nut oil, pinolenic acid and its derivative eicosatrienoic acid and their potential health benefits

Prog Lipid Res. 2021 Apr:82:101097. doi: 10.1016/j.plipres.2021.101097. Epub 2021 Apr 5.


Pine nut oil (PNO) is rich in a variety of unusual delta-5-non-methylene-interrupted fatty acids (NMIFAs), including pinolenic acid (PLA; all cis-5,-9,-12 18:3) which typically comprises 14 to 19% of total fatty acids. PLA has been shown to be metabolised to eicosatrienoic acid (ETA; all cis-7,-11,-14 20:3) in various cells and tissues. Here we review the literature on PNO, PLA and its metabolite ETA in the context of human health applications. PNO and PLA have a range of favourable effects on body weight as well as fat deposition through increased energy expenditure (fatty acid oxidation) and decreased food energy intake (reduced appetite). PNO and PLA improve blood and hepatic lipids in animal models and insulin sensitivity in vitro and reduce inflammation and modulate immune function in vitro and in animal models. The few studies which have examined effects of ETA indicate it has anti-inflammatory properties. Another NMIFA from PNO, sciadonic acid (all cis-5,-11,-14 20:3), has generally similar properties to PLA where these have been investigated. There is potential for human health benefits from PNO, its constituent NMIFA PLA and the PLA derivative ETA. However further studies are needed to explore the effects in humans.

Keywords: Eicosatrienoic acid; Human health; Pine nut oil; Pinolenic acid.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Linolenic Acids
  • Nuts*
  • Plant Oils


  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Linolenic Acids
  • Plant Oils
  • 5,9,12-octadecatrienoic acid