Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and docosapentaenoic acid (DPAn-6) algal oils reduce inflammatory mediators in human peripheral mononuclear cells in vitro and paw edema in vivo

Julie M. Nauroth, Ying Chun Liu, Mary Van Elswyk, Rebecca Bell, Eileen Bailey Hall, Gloria Chung, Linda M. Arterburn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The anti-inflammatory activity associated with fish oil has been ascribed to the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA), predominantly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Here we examined the anti-inflammatory effects of two DHA-rich algal oils, which contain little EPA, and determined the contribution of the constituent fatty acids, particularly DHA and docosapentaenoic acid (DPAn-6). In vitro, lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated Interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β) and Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha (TNF-α) secretion in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) was inhibited with apparent relative potencies of DPAn-6 (most potent) > DHA > EPA. In addition, DPAn-6 decreased intracellular levels of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and was a potent inhibitor of pro-inflammatory prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production. DHA/DPAn-6-rich DHA-S™ (DHA-S) algal oil was more effective at reducing edema in rats than DHA-rich DHA-T™ (DHA-T), suggesting that DPAn-6 has anti-inflammatory properties. Further in vivo analyses demonstrated that feeding DPAn-6 alone, provided as an ethyl ester, reduced paw edema to an extent approaching that of indomethacin and enhanced the anti-inflammatory activity of DHA when given in combination. Together, these results demonstrate that DPAn-6 has anti-inflammatory activity and enhances the effect of DHA in vitro and in vivo. Thus, DHA-S algal oil may have potential for use in anti-inflammatory applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-384
Number of pages10
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2010
Externally publishedYes



  • DHA
  • DPAn-6
  • Inflammation
  • Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Cell Biology

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