, 42:325 | Cite as

Stearidonic Acid Increases the Red Blood Cell and Heart Eicosapentaenoic Acid Content in Dogs

  • William S. Harris
  • Maureen A. DiRienzo
  • Scott A. Sands
  • Cherian George
  • Philip G. Jones
  • Alex K. Eapen
Original Article


Plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids (FA) are needed that can materially raise tissue levels of long-chain omega-3 FA [i.e., eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 20:6n-3)]. Stearidonic acid (SDA; 18:4n-3) is the delta-6 desaturase product of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA; 18:3n-3), and when fed to humans, increases red blood cell (RBC) content of EPA to a greater extent than does ALA. This study was undertaken to determine the dose-dependence and time course of the increase in the EPA and DHA content of the heart and RBC in dogs. Adult male Beagles were fed 21, 64, or 193 mg/kg of SDA in in their food daily for up to 12 weeks. Positive and negative controls were given EPA (43 mg/kg) or high oleic acid sunflower oil, respectively. The baseline EPA content of RBC was 0.38 ± 0.03% which increased (P < 0.01) in a dose-dependent manner, with the high dose of SDA and EPA achieving levels of 1.33 ± 0.26 and 1.55. ± 0.28%, respectively. In the heart, the content of EPA rose from 0.06 ± 0.01 to 1.24 ± 0.22% in the EPA group and to 0.81 ± 0.32% in the high SDA group (both P < 0.01). In both tissues, DHA did not change. Compared to dietary EPA, SDA was 20–23% as efficient in raising tissue EPA levels. In conclusion, SDA supplementation increased the EPA content of RBC and heart and may have utility as a plant-based source of omega-3 FA.


Omega-3 fatty acids Eicosapentaenoic acid Docosahexaenoic acid Docosapentaenoic acid Stearidonic acid Dogs 



Fatty acid methyl esters


Gas chromatography


Eicosapentaenoic acid


Docosahexaenoic acid


Stearidonic acid


n-3 Docosapentaenoic acid


Alpha-linolenic acid


Sunflower oil


Red blood cells



The authors thank Gulam Ahmed of Monsanto Company for his expert analysis of the test materials used in this study. This study was funded by a grant from Monsanto Company. WSH is a consultant to the Monsanto Company, Reliant Pharmaceuticals and OmegaMetrix, LLC.


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Copyright information

© AOCS 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • William S. Harris
    • 1
    • 4
  • Maureen A. DiRienzo
    • 2
  • Scott A. Sands
    • 1
  • Cherian George
    • 2
  • Philip G. Jones
    • 1
  • Alex K. Eapen
    • 3
  1. 1.Mid America Heart InstituteSaint Luke’s HospitalKansas CityUSA
  2. 2.Monsanto CompanySt. LouisUSA
  3. 3.WIL Research Laboratories, LLCAshlandUSA
  4. 4.Sanford Research and School of Medicine of The University of South DakotaSioux FallsUSA

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