Dietary uptake of omega-3 fatty acids in mouse tissue studied by time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF-SIMS)


Dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with considerable health benefits, including the prevention of metabolic disorders such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, incorporation of the main omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), at the systemic level has been found to be more efficient when these fatty acids are supplied in the form of marine phospholipids compared to triglycerides. In this work, the uptake of omega-3 fatty acids and their incorporation in specific lipids were studied in adipose, skeletal muscle, and liver tissues of mice given high-fat diets with or without omega-3 supplements in the form of phospholipids or triglycerides using time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF-SIMS). The results demonstrate significant uptake of EPA and DHA, and the incorporation of these fatty acids in specific lipid molecules, in all three tissue types in response to the dietary omega-3 supplements. Moreover, the results indicate reduced concentrations of arachidonic acid (AA) and depletion of lipids containing AA in tissue samples from mice given supplementary omega-3, as compared to the control mice. The effect on the lipid composition, in particular the DHA uptake and AA depletion, was found to be significantly stronger when the omega-3 supplement was supplied in the form of phospholipids, as compared to triglycerides. TOF-SIMS was found to be a useful technique for screening the lipid composition and simultaneously obtaining the spatial distributions of various lipid classes on tissue surfaces.

Lipid-specific analysis of TOF-SIMS spectra was used to study dietary uptake of omega-3 fatty acids in mouse adipose, muscle and liver tissue. Ion images shows the lateral distribution of molecular species, herephosphocholine (red), protein fragment (green) and diacylglycerol (blue), on the tissue surfaces

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We are grateful to Ylva Magnusson for assistance in the preparation of tissue sections. This study was supported by grants from the Czech Science Foundation (14-09347S, to M.R.) and VINNOVA Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (P.S.).

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Correspondence to Peter Sjövall.

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Published in the topical collection Lipidomics with guest editor Michal Holčapek.

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Sjövall, P., Rossmeisl, M., Hanrieder, J. et al. Dietary uptake of omega-3 fatty acids in mouse tissue studied by time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF-SIMS). Anal Bioanal Chem 407, 5101–5111 (2015).

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  • Omega-3
  • Mouse tissue
  • Lipids
  • Imaging
  • PCA