Dietary n-3 HUFA Affects Mitochondrial Fatty Acid β-Oxidation Capacity and Susceptibility to Oxidative Stress in Atlantic Salmon


Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) (90 g) were fed four different diets for 21 weeks (final weight 344 g). The levels of n-3 highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFA) ranged from 11% of the total fatty acids (FA) in the low n-3 diet to 21% in the intermediate n-3 diet, to 55 and 58% in the high n-3 diets. The high n-3 diets were enriched with either docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Increasing dietary levels of n-3 HUFA led to increasing percentages (from 31 to 52%) of these FA in liver lipids. The group fed the highest level of DHA had higher expressions of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) β and the FA β-oxidation genes acyl-CoA oxidase (ACO) and carnitine palmitoyltransferase (CPT)-II, compared to the low n-3 groups. The high n-3 groups had reduced activity of mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase and β-oxidation capacity, together with increased activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and caspase-3 activities. In the group fed the highest level of n-3 HUFA, decreased percentages of major phospholipids (PL) in the mitochondrial and microsomal membranes of the liver were also apparent. The percentage of mitochondrial cardiolipin (Ptd2Gro) was 3.1 in the highest n-3 group compared to 6.6 in the intermediate group. These data clearly show an increased incidence of oxidative stress in the liver of fish fed the high n-3 diets.

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Acyl-CoA oxidase


Bovine serum albumin


Coenzyme A


Carnitine palmitoyltransferase


Docosahexaenoic acid




Ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid

EF1-αβ :

Elongation factor 1-α beta isoform


Ethylene glycol tetra-acetic acid


Eicosapentanoic acid


Fatty acid


Flavin adenine dinucleotide


Fetal bovine serum


Fish oil


High-performance thin-layer chromatography


Highly unsaturated fatty acid


Leibowitz-15 medium


Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide


Phosphate-buffered saline




Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor










Rapeseed oil


Reactive oxygen species


Superoxide dismutase




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We wish to thank Inger Ø. Kristiansen and Målfrid T. Bjerke (Nofima) for skillful technical assistance. This work was carried out with support from the Norwegian Research Council.

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Correspondence to M. A. Kjær.

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Kjær, M.A., Todorčević, M., Torstensen, B.E. et al. Dietary n-3 HUFA Affects Mitochondrial Fatty Acid β-Oxidation Capacity and Susceptibility to Oxidative Stress in Atlantic Salmon. Lipids 43, 813–827 (2008).

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  • Lipid metabolism
  • Lipid peroxidation
  • Gene expression
  • Fish oil
  • n-3 fatty acids
  • n-6 fatty acids