The role of n-3 PUFA-derived fatty acid derivatives and their oxygenated metabolites in the modulation of inflammation

Bus, Ian de; Witkamp, Renger; Zuilhof, Han; Albada, Bauke; Balvers, Michiel


Notwithstanding the ongoing debate on their full potential in health and disease, there is general consensus that n-3 PUFAs play important physiological roles. Increasing dietary n-3 PUFA intake results in increased DHA and EPA content in cell membranes as well as an increase in n-3 derived oxylipin and -endocannabinoid concentrations, like fatty acid amides and glycerol-esters. These shifts are believed to (partly) explain the pharmacological and anti-inflammatory effects of n-3 PUFAs. Recent studies discovered that n-3 PUFA-derived endocannabinoids can be further metabolized by the oxidative enzymes CYP-450, LOX and COX, similar to the n-6 derived endocannabinoids. Interestingly, these oxidized n-3 PUFA derived endocannabinoids of eicosapentaenoyl ethanolamide (EPEA) and docosahexaenoyl ethanolamide (DHEA) have higher anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative potential than their precursors. In this review, an overview of recently discovered n-3 PUFA derived endocannabinoids and their metabolites is provided. In addition, the use of chemical probes will be presented as a promising technique to study the n-3 PUFA and n-3 PUFA metabolism within the field of lipid biochemistry.