Short-term diets rich in arachidonic acid influence plasma phospholipid polyunsaturated fatty acid levels and prostacyclin and thromboxane production in humans

Andrew J. Sinclair, Neil J. Mann

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Two small-scale dietary intervention studies were conducted to examine the effect of diets rich in arachidonic acid (AA) and n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LCP), on the in vivo production of prostacyclin (PGI2) and thromboxane (TXA2). The first was a pilot study and contained insufficient numbers for statistical analyses. It involved a 7-d intervention with 10 subjects divided into three groups, consuming diets rich in AA (500 mg/d), rich in AA and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (500 mg/d of each), or rich in DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) (~1500 mg/d of n-3 LCP). Plasma phospholipid (PL) levels of AA increased in aft subjects in groups 1 (n = 4) and 2 (n = 3). DHA levels increased in all subjects in Groups 2 and 3 (n = 3), and EPA levels increased in all subjects from Group 3 but fell in all subjects from Group 1. The in vivo production of PGI2, measured as its urinary metabolite, was increased in two subjects in Group 1 and one subject in Group 2, with all other subjects showing little change. Urinary TXA2 metabolite increased in all subjects from Group 1. The second study was conducted in seven subjects, who consumed a low fat diet for 2 wk: the 1st wk was a vegetarian diet (no LCP) followed by a 2nd wk where the subjects were required to consume 500 g (raw weight) of kangaroo meat daily (305 mg/d AA, 325 mg/d n-3 LCP). The meat diet was associated with a marked rise in the serum PL levels of AA, EPA and docosapentaenoic acid 22:5(n-3) and with a significant increase in the urinary output of the prostacyclin metabolite, but no effect on TXA2 production, as measured by its urinary metabolite level. The results of these studies have shown that diets that contain both AA and n-3 LCP are associated with an increase in PGI2 production, without affecting TXA2 production. Further studies with purified LCP are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1110S-1114S
Number of pages5
JournalThe Journal of Nutrition
Issue number4 SUPPL.
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • arachidonic acid
  • humans
  • long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid
  • prostacyclin
  • thromboxane

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