APOE genotype modifies the plasma oxylipin response to omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in healthy individuals

Rasha Saleh, Annette West, Annika Ostermann, Nils Helge Schebb, Philip Calder, Anne-Marie Minihane

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The omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), mediate inflammation in large part by affecting pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory/pro-resolving oxylipin concentrations. Common gene variants are thought to underlie the large inter-individual variation in oxylipin levels in response to n-3 PUFA supplementation, which in turn is likely to contribute to the overall heterogeneity in response to n-3 PUFA intervention. Given its known role in inflammation and as a modulator of the physiological response to EPA and DHA, here we explore, for the first time, the differential response of plasma hydroxy-, epoxy- and dihydroxy-arachidonic acid, EPA and DHA oxylipins according to apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype using samples from a dose-response parallel design RCT. Healthy participants were given doses of EPA+DHA equivalent to intakes of 1, 2, and 4 portions of oily fish per week for 12 months. There was no difference in the plasma levels of EPA, DHA or ARA between the wildtype APOE3/E3 and APOE4 carrier groups after 3 or 12 months of n-3 PUFA supplementation. At 12 months, hydroxy EPAs (HEPEs) and hydroxy-DHAs (HDHAs) were higher in APOE4 carriers, with the difference most evident at the highest EPA+DHA intake. A significant APOE *n-3 PUFA dose effect was observed for the CYP-ω hydroxylase products 19-HEPE (p = 0.027) and 20-HEPE (p = 0.011). 8-HEPE, which, along with several other plasma oxylipins, is an activator of peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPARs), showed the highest fold change in APOE4 carriers (14-fold) compared to APOE3/E3 (4-fold) (p = 0.014). Low basal plasma EPA levels (EPA < 0.85% of total fatty acids) were associated with a greater change in 5-HEPE, 9-HEPE, 11-HEPE, and 20-HEPE compared to high basal EPA levels (EPA > 1.22% of total fatty acids). In conclusion, APOE genotype modulated the plasma oxylipin response to increased EPA+DHA intake, with APOE4 carriers presenting with the greatest increases following high dose n-3 PUFA supplementation for 12 months.

Original languageEnglish
Article number723813
Number of pages15
JournalFrontiers in Nutrition
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sep 2021


  • APOE
  • DHA
  • EPA
  • HDHA
  • HEPE
  • PPAR
  • PUFAs
  • oxylipins

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