Effects of a Fish Oil Rich in Docosahexaenoic Acid on Cardiometabolic Risk Factors and Oxidative Stress in Healthy Rats

Mar Drugs. 2021 Sep 29;19(10):555. doi: 10.3390/md19100555.


Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are associated with a lower risk of cardiometabolic diseases. However, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is easily oxidized, leading to cellular damage. The present study examined the effects of an increased concentration of DHA in fish oil (80% of total fatty acids) on cardiometabolic risk factors and oxidative stress compared to coconut oil, soybean oil, and fish oil containing eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA in a balanced ratio. Forty healthy male Sprague-Dawley rats were supplemented with corresponding oil for 10 weeks. Supplementation with the fish oil containing 80% DHA decreased plasma fat, plasma total cholesterol and muscle fat compared to the coconut oil and the soybean oil. Increasing concentrations of DHA induced incorporation of DHA and EPA in cell membranes and tissues along with a decrease in ω-6 arachidonic acid. The increase in DHA promoted lipid peroxidation, protein carbonylation and antioxidant response. Taken together, the increased concentration of DHA in fish oil reduced fat accumulation compared to the coconut oil and the soybean oil. This benefit was accompanied by high lipid peroxidation and subsequent protein carbonylation in plasma and in liver. In our healthy framework, the slightly higher carbonylation found after receiving fish oil containing 80% DHA might be a protecting mechanism, which fit with the general improvement of antioxidant defense observed in those rats.

Keywords: cholesterol; coconut oil; eicosapentaenoic acid; glucose; inflammation; lipid peroxidation; protein carbonylation; soybean oil.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Aquatic Organisms
  • Cardiometabolic Risk Factors
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / administration & dosage
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Fish Oils / administration & dosage
  • Fish Oils / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Models, Animal
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Fish Oils
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids