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We have investigated how n-3 highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFAs) in the diet affect fatty acid (FA) utilization, fat storage and oxidative stress (OS) in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) white adipose tissue (WAT). Four groups of Atlantic salmon were fed for 21 weeks on one of the four diets supplemented with 23% (of dry matter) lipid. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n-3) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5n-3) levels increased from 10% of total FAs in the rapeseed oil (RO) diet, to 20% in the fish oil (FO) diet, and to 50% and 55% in the DHA-enriched and EPA-enriched diets, respectively. Increased dietary levels of n-3 HUFAs resulted in lower fat percentage in WAT. Furthermore, mitochondrial FA beta-oxidation activity was higher in the FO group than it was in the RO group. The relative levels of DHA and EPA in phospholipids (PLs) from WAT and mitochondrial membranes increased with the increasing dietary levels of these HUFAs. In general, the mitochondrial membrane PLs were characterised by lower relative levels of n-3 HUFAs and higher relative levels of linoleic acid (LA; 18:2 n-6) than WAT membrane PLs. The predominance of LA relative to n-3 HUFAs in mitochondrial membrane PLs may help to protect these PLs from peroxidation. Cytochrome c oxidase measurements revealed higher incidence of disrupted mitochondrial membranes in the DHA and EPA dietary groups than in the FO and RO dietary groups. This disruption further affected the mitochondrial function, resulting in a marked reduction in FA beta-oxidation capacities. The reduction in mitochondrial function and the increase in the activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD) in the DHA and EPA groups showed that high dietary dose of DHA and EPA resulted in oxidative stress (OS). The increased activity of caspase 3 in the high n-3 HUFA groups suggested the induction of apoptosis and increased incidence of cell death in WAT, which may be one of the factors explaining the lower fat percentage found in these groups.

Original publication




Journal article


Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol

Publication Date





135 - 143


Animals, Apoptosis, Biomarkers, Caspase 3, Diet, Fatty Acids, Omega-3, Intra-Abdominal Fat, Lipid Metabolism, Lipids, Mitochondria, Oxidation-Reduction, Oxidative Stress, Salmo salar, Subcellular Fractions, Superoxide Dismutase