JOURNAL ARTICLE

Acute appearance of fatty acids in human plasma—a comparative study between polar-lipid rich oil from the microalgae Nannochloropsis oculata and krill oil in healthy young males

Michael L Kagan, Annette L West, Christa Zante, Philip C Calder
Lipids in Health and Disease 2013, 12: 102
23855409

BACKGROUND: The long-chain n-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have human health benefits. Alternatives to fish as sources of EPA and DHA are needed. Oil from the micro-algae Nannochloropsis oculata contains a significant amount of EPA conjugated to phospholipids and glycolipids and no DHA. Krill oil contains EPA and DHA conjugated to phospholipids. We compare the appearance of fatty acids in blood plasma of healthy humans after consuming a high fat meal followed by either algal oil or krill oil.

METHODS: Ten healthy males aged 18-45 years consumed a standard high fat (55 g) breakfast followed by either algal oil (providing 1.5 g EPA and no DHA) or krill oil (providing 1.02 g EPA and 0.54 g DHA). All participants consumed both oils in random order and separated by 7 days. Blood samples were collected before the breakfast and at several time points up to 10 hours after taking the oils. Fatty acid concentrations (μg/ml) in plasma were determined by gas chromatography.

RESULTS: Fatty acids derived mainly from the breakfast appeared rapidly in plasma, peaking about 3 hours after consuming the breakfast, and in a pattern that reflected their content in the breakfast. There were time-dependent increases in the concentrations of both EPA and DHA with both algal oil (P < 0.001 for EPA; P = 0.027 for DHA) and krill oil (P < 0.001 for both EPA and DHA). The concentration of EPA was higher with algal oil than with krill oil at several time points. DHA concentration did not differ between oils at any time point. The maximum concentration of EPA was higher with algal oil (P = 0.010) and both the area under the concentration curve (AUC) and the incremental AUC for EPA were greater with algal oil (P = 0.020 and 0.006). There was no difference between oils in the AUC or the incremental AUC for DHA.

CONCLUSION: This study in healthy young men given a single dose of oil indicates that the polar-lipid rich oil from the algae Nannochloropis oculata is a good source of EPA in humans.

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