Dietary lipids from marine unicellular algae enhance the amount of liver and blood omega-3 fatty acids in rats

Assaf Sukenik, Hidehiro Takahashi, Shoshana Mokady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The nutritional effect of omega-3 (ω3) polyenoic fatty acids, originating from marine unicellular algae or from fish oil, on the liver and blood lipids was studied in weanling rats fed for 2 weeks on control or experimental diets. Isolipid experimental diets containing either 10% marine microalgae or algal lipids or fish (capelin) oil substituting part (40%) or all of the soybean oil of the control diet. The algae employed were Nannochloropsis sp. or Isochrysis galbana, which are rich in eicosa-pentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), respectively. Cell disruption improved the digestibility of the Nannochloropsis biomass. Diets containing algal meal significantly reduced the relative abundance of arachidonic acid (AA) in the blood and liver lipids and caused a significant increase in the percentage of the ω3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). Feeding Nannochloropsis lipids resulted in a similar effect on the plasma and liver fatty acid pattern as that of a diet containing disrupted cells of Nannochloropsis biomass. In comparison, the response of the plasma and liver lipids to capelin oil was characterized by a further reduction in the abundance of AA and a significant elevation in the percentage of EPA and DHA. These differences are probably due to the variations in the fatty acid composition and not to the fact that ω3 fatty acids are associated with different lipid classes in these lipid sources. Based on the present study, it is postulated that certain marine unicellular algae can be used as a nutritional source for ω3 PUFA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-96
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Nutrition and Metabolism
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Docosahexaenoic acid
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid
  • Fish oil
  • Isochrysisgalbana
  • Liver lipid
  • Microalga
  • Nannochloropsis
  • Omega-3 fatty acid
  • Plasma lipid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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