Originally published in Lipid Insights 2013:6

doi: 10.4137/LPI.S10862

This is an open access article published under the Creative Commons CC-BY-NC 3.0 license.

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Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) with 20 carbon atoms and 5 carbon-carbon double bonds. Mammalian cells cannot synthesize long chain PUFAs such as EPA de novo, and, thus, the most effective way to enrich cells in EPA is by dietary intake of fish oils. EPA supplementation causes an increase in its concentration in plasma lipids and in cell membrane phospholipids. Many beneficial effects of EPA supplementation have been noted, including (1) the potential to sensitize cancerous tumors towards chemotherapy, (2) the promotion of cardiovascular health, and (3) the alleviation of some mental disorders, but results from clinical trials have sometimes been disparate. In this study, we report the use of mass spectrometry to investigate the autoxidation of EPA, thereby demonstrating the formation of a variety of oxidized products. The oxidative stress of the patient may affect the response to EPA and may, in part, explain divergent results from clinical trials.

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