Red blood cell docosapentaenoic acid (DPA n-3) is inversely associated with triglycerides and C-reactive protein (CRP) in healthy adults and dose-dependently increases following n-3 fatty acid supplementation

Ann C. Skulas-Ray, Michael R. Flock, Chesney K. Richter, William S. Harris, Sheila G. West, Penny M. Kris-Etherton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


The role of the long-chain omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in lipid metabolism and inflammation has been extensively studied; however, little is known about the relationship between docosapentaenoic acid (DPA, 22:5 n-3) and inflammation and triglycerides (TG). We evaluated whether n-3 DPA content of red blood cells (RBC) was associated with markers of inflammation (interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), and C-reactive protein (CRP) and fasting TG prior to n-3 supplementation in two studies (Study 1: n = 115, aged 20–44 years, body mass index (BMI) 20–30 kg/m2, TG = 34–176 mg/dL; Study 2: n = 28, aged 22–65 years, BMI 24–37 kg/m2, TG = 141–339 mg/dL). We also characterized the dose-response effects of n-3 fatty acid supplementation on RBC n-3 DPA after five months of supplementation with fish oil (Study 1: 0, 300, 600, 900, and 1800 mg/day EPA + DHA) and eight weeks of prescription n-3 ethyl esters (Study 2: 0, 850, and 3400 mg/day EPA + DHA). In Study 1, RBC n-3 DPA was inversely correlated with CRP (R2 = 36%, p < 0.001) and with fasting TG (r = −0.30, p = 0.001). The latter finding was replicated in Study 2 (r = −0.33, p = 0.04). In both studies, n-3 supplementation significantly increased RBC n-3 DPA dose-dependently. Relative increases were greater for Study 1, with increases of 29%–61% vs. 14%–26% for Study 2. The associations between RBC n-3 DPA, CRP, and fasting TG may have important implications for the prevention of atherosclerosis and chronic inflammatory diseases and warrant further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6390-6404
Number of pages15
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 4 2015


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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