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Adipose tissue function is key determinant of metabolic health, with specific nutrients being suggested to play a role in tissue metabolism. One such group of nutrients are the n-3 fatty acids, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n-3). Results from studies where human, animal and cellular models have been utilised to investigate the effects of EPA and/or DHA on white adipose tissue/adipocytes suggest anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory effects. We review here evidence for these effects, specifically focusing on studies that provide some insight into metabolic pathways or processes. Of note, limited work has been undertaken investigating the effects of EPA and DHA on white adipose tissue in humans whilst more work has been undertaken using animal and cellular models. Taken together it would appear that EPA and DHA have a positive effect on lowering lipogenesis, increasing lipolysis and decreasing inflammation, all of which would be beneficial for adipose tissue biology. What remains to be elucidated is the duration and dose required to see a favourable effect of EPA and DHA in vivo in humans, across a range of adiposity.

Original publication




Journal article


J Clin Med

Publication Date





adipose tissue, marine, n-3 fatty acids, subcutaneous