Correlations between blood and tissue omega-3 LCPUFA status following dietary ALA intervention in rats

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The aim of this study was to assess relationships between the fatty acid contents of plasma and erythrocyte phospholipids and those in liver, heart, brain, kidney and quadriceps muscle in rats. To obtain a wide range of tissue omega-3 (n-3) long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) we subjected weanling rats to dietary treatment with the n-3 LCPUFA precursor, alpha linolenic acid (ALA, 18:3 n-3) for 3 weeks. With the exception of the brain, we found strong and consistent correlations between the total n-3 LCPUFA fatty acid content of both plasma and erythrocyte phospholipids with fatty acid levels in all tissues. The relationships between eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5 n-3) and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA, 22:5 n-3) content in both blood fractions with levels in liver, kidney, heart and quadriceps muscle phospholipids were stronger than those for docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6 n-3). The strong correlations between the EPA+DHA (the Omega-3 Index), total n-3 LCPUFA and total n-3 PUFA contents in both plasma and erythrocyte phospholipids and tissues investigated in this study suggest that, under a wide range of n-3 LCPUFA values, plasma and erythrocyte n-3 fatty acid content reflect not only dietary PUFA intakes but also accumulation of endogenously synthesised n-3 LCPUFA, and thus can be used as a reliable surrogate for assessing n-3 status in key peripheral tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-60
Number of pages8
JournalProstaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Jan 2013


  • ALA%en
  • Dietary fatty acids
  • Omega-3 Index
  • Tissue fatty acid profile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology

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