, Volume 50, Issue 10, pp 945–953 | Cite as

Fucoxanthin Enhances Chain Elongation and Desaturation of Alpha-Linolenic Acid in HepG2 Cells

  • Meng-Ting Wu
  • Hui-Min Su
  • Yi Cui
  • Anthony Windust
  • Hong-Nong Chou
  • Ching-jang HuangEmail author
Original Article


Dietary fucoxanthin (FX), a carotenoid compound from brown algae, was found to increase docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) and arachidonic acid (ARA, 20:4n-6) in the liver of mice. DHA and ARA are known to be biosynthesized from the respective precursor α-linolenic acid (ALA, 18:3n-3) and linoleic acid (LNA, 18:2n-6), through desaturation and chain elongation. We examined the effect of FX on the fatty acid metabolism in HepG2 cells (Hepatocellular carcinoma, human). In the first experiment, cells were co-treated with ALA (100 μM) and FX (0–100 μM) or vehicle for 48 h. FX increased eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5n-3), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA, 22:5n-3), DHA at concentrations of ≥50 μM. To clarify the change in the metabolism of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), in the second experiment, cells were co-treated with universally-[13C]-labeled (U-[13C]-) ALA (100 μM) and FX (100 μM) for 0.5, 3, 6, 24 and 48 h. [13C] labeled-EPA, DPA and DHA content in HepG2 cells were all increased by FX after 48 h treatment. Furthermore, estimated delta-5 desaturase (D5D) but not delta-6 desaturase (D6D) activity index was increased at 48 h. These results suggested that FX may enhance the conversion of ALA to longer chain n-3 PUFA through increasing D5D activity in the liver.


Fucoxanthin Delta-5 desaturase Elongation ALA EPA DHA n-3 PUFA 



Acyl-CoA oxidase-1


Arachidonic acid


α-Linolenic acid


Bovine serum albumin


Delta-5 desaturase


Delta-6 desaturase


Docosahexaenoic acid


Dihomo-γ-linolenic acid


Docosapentaenoic acid


Eicosapentaenoic acid


Eicosatetraenoic acid


Fatty acid methyl ester


Fetal bovine serum




γ-Linolenic acid


Linoleic acid


Liver X receptor α


Monounsaturated fatty acid


Oleic acid


Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α


Polyunsaturated fatty acid


Stearoyl-CoA desaturase 1


Stearidonic acid


Sterol regulatory element binding protein


Universally [13C]-labeled



This study was supported by a grant from the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC 99-2313-B-002-013-MY3 and NSC 98-2313-B-002-002-MY3).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11745_2015_4059_MOESM1_ESM.docx (46 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 46 kb)


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Copyright information

© AOCS 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meng-Ting Wu
    • 1
  • Hui-Min Su
    • 2
  • Yi Cui
    • 3
  • Anthony Windust
    • 3
  • Hong-Nong Chou
    • 4
  • Ching-jang Huang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Biochemical Science and TechnologyNational Taiwan UniversityTaipei10617
  2. 2.Institute of Physiology, College of MedicineNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  3. 3.Measurement Science and StandardsNational Research CouncilOttawaCanada
  4. 4.Institute of Fisheries ScienceNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan

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