Open Access Research

n-3 PUFA added to high-fat diets affect differently adiposity and inflammation when carried by phospholipids or triacylglycerols in mice

Manar Awada12, Anne Meynier3, Christophe O Soulage2, Lilas Hadji2, Alain Géloën2, Michèle Viau3, Lucie Ribourg3, Berengère Benoit25, Cyrille Debard4, Michel Guichardant2, Michel Lagarde2, Claude Genot3 and Marie-Caroline Michalski1256*

Author Affiliations

1 INRA, U1362, CarMeN, Villeurbanne, F-69621, France

2 INSA-Lyon, IMBL, Villeurbanne, F-69621, France

3 INRA, UR1268 BIA, Nantes, F-44316, France

4 INSERM U1060, CarMeN, Oullins, F-69921, France

5 Université de Lyon, Villeurbanne, F-69622, France

6 INRA USC1362, INSERM U1060, Cardiovasculaire Métabolisme diabétologie et Nutrition, CarMeN Laboratory, InFoLip team, IMBL Building, INSA-Lyon, 11 avenue Jean Capelle, Villeurbanne cedex, 69621, France

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Nutrition & Metabolism 2013, 10:23  doi:10.1186/1743-7075-10-23

Published: 15 February 2013



Dietary intake of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) is primarily recognized to protect against cardiovascular diseases, cognitive dysfunctions and the onset of obesity and associated metabolic disorders. However, some of their properties such as bioavailability can depend on their chemical carriers. The objective of our study was to test the hypothesis that the nature of n-3 PUFA carrier results in different metabolic effects related to adiposity, oxidative stress and inflammation.


4 groups of C57BL/6 mice were fed for 8 weeks low fat (LF) diet or high-fat (HF, 20%) diets. Two groups of high-fat diets were supplemented with long-chain n-3 PUFA either incorporated in the form of phospholipids (HF-ω3PL) or triacylglycerols (HF-ω3TG).


Both HF-ω3PL and HF-ω3TG diets reduced the plasma concentrations of (i) inflammatory markers such as monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) and interleukin 6 (IL-6), (ii) leptin and (iii) 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (4-HNE), a marker of n-6 PUFA-derived oxidative stress compared with the control HF diet. Moreover, in both HF-ω3PL and HF-ω3TG groups, MCP-1 and IL-6 gene expressions were decreased in epididymal adipose tissue and the mRNA level of gastrointestinal glutathione peroxidase GPx2, an antioxidant enzyme, was decreased in the jejunum compared with the control HF diet. The type of n-3 PUFA carrier affected other outcomes. The phospholipid form of n-3 PUFA increased the level of tocopherols in epididymal adipose tissue compared with HF-ω3TG and resulted in smaller adipocytes than the two others HF groups. Adipocytes in the HF-ω3PL and LF groups were similar in size distribution.


Supplementation of mice diet with long-chain n-3 PUFA during long-term consumption of high-fat diets had the same lowering effects on inflammation regardless of triacyglycerol or phospholipid carrier, whereas the location of these fatty acids on a PL carrier had a major effect on decreasing the size of adipocytes that was not observed with the triacyglycerol carrier. Altogether, these results would support the development functional foods containing LC n-3 PUFA in the form of PL in order to prevent some deleterious outcomes associated with the development of obesity.

n-3 PUFA; Phospholipid; Triacylglycerol; High-fat diet; Inflammation; Oxidative stress; Adipose tissue