Heneicosapentaenoate (21:5n-3): its incorporation into lipids and its effects on arachidonic acid and eicosanoid synthesis

Lipids. 1997 Jul;32(7):707-14. doi: 10.1007/s11745-997-0090-4.


6,9,12,15,18-Heneicosapentaenoic acid (21:5n-3) (HPA), present in small amounts in fish oils, has been prepared by chemical elongation of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and its biological properties compared with EPA and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). All the double bonds of HPA are displaced one carbon away from the carboxyl group when compared to EPA. HPA is incorporated into phospholipids and into triacylglycerol in cell culture to a similar extent as EPA and DHA. HPA is a stronger inhibitor of the conversion of alpha-linoleic acid and dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid to arachidonic acid (AA) in hepatoma cells than are EPA, DHA, and AA. HPA is a poor substrate for prostaglandin H synthase and for 5-lipoxygenase, but it inactivates prostaglandin H synthase as rapidly as do AA, EPA, and DHA. HPA inhibits thromboxane synthesis in isolated platelets as efficiently as EPA. EPA, HPA, and DHA are all weak inducers of acyl-CoA oxidase in hepatoma cells. Therefore, since fish oils contain only small amounts of HPA, it is unlikely that this fatty acid is of particular significance for the biological effects of these oils, possibly with the exception that it is a strong inhibitor of AA synthesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachidonate 5-Lipoxygenase / metabolism
  • Arachidonic Acid / biosynthesis*
  • Delta-5 Fatty Acid Desaturase
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / metabolism
  • Eicosanoids / biosynthesis*
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / metabolism
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism*
  • Linoleoyl-CoA Desaturase
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Liver / cytology
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / metabolism
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / cytology
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Phospholipids / metabolism
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Triglycerides / metabolism


  • 6,9,12,15,18-heneicosapentaenoic acid
  • Delta-5 Fatty Acid Desaturase
  • Eicosanoids
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Phospholipids
  • Triglycerides
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Arachidonic Acid
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid
  • Arachidonate 5-Lipoxygenase
  • Fatty Acid Desaturases
  • Linoleoyl-CoA Desaturase
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases