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Effect of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acid on resting and exercise-induced inflammation and oxidative stress


The fish oils eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have been reported to provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits at rest. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of EPA/DHA supplementation on resting and exercise-induced inflammation and oxidative stress in trained men.


14 men (26 ± 5 yrs) supplemented with 2224 mg EPA (MorEPA Mini; Minami Nutrition, Belgium)+2208 mg DHA (MorDHA Mini; Minami Nutrition, Belgium) and a placebo for 6 weeks using a random order, double blind cross-over design (with an 8 week washout period) prior to performing a 60 minute treadmill climb using a weighted backpack. Blood was collected before and at 0, 0.5, 24, and 48 hours post exercise and analyzed for C-reactive protein (CRP), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), protein carbonyls (PC), oxidized low density lipoprotein (oxLDL), malondialdehyde (MDA), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), and xanthine oxidase activity (XO). Pre (wk 0) and post (wk 6) blood samples were analyzed for EPA and DHA content.


Treatment with EPA/DHA resulted in a significant increase in blood levels of both EPA (18 ± 2 μmol·L-1 vs. 143 ± 23 μmol·L-1; p < 0.0001) and DHA (67 ± 4 μmol·L-1 vs. 157 ± 13 μmol·L-1; p < 0.0001), while no differences were noted for placebo. Resting levels of CRP and TNF-α were lower with EPA/DHA compared to placebo (p < 0.05). Resting oxidative stress markers were not different (p > 0.05). There was a mild increase in oxidative stress in response to exercise (p < 0.05), however no interaction effects or condition effects were noted. A condition effect was noted for CRP and TNF-α, with lower values with the EPA/DHA condition (p < 0.05). However, no interaction or time effects were noted (p > 0.05).


EPA/DHA supplementation increases blood levels of these fatty acids and results in decreased resting levels of inflammatory biomarkers in trained men, but does not appear necessary for exercise-induced attenuation in either inflammation or oxidative stress in this population. This may be due to the finding that trained men exhibit a minimal increase in inflammation and oxidative stress in response to moderate duration (60 minute), non-eccentric biased exercise.


This work was supported in part by Minami Nutrition, Belgium.

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Correspondence to Richard Bloomer.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Bloomer, R., Larson, D., Galpin, A. et al. Effect of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acid on resting and exercise-induced inflammation and oxidative stress. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 6, P3 (2009).

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  • Oxidative Stress
  • Xanthine Oxidase
  • Docosahexaenoic Acid
  • Condition Effect
  • Protein Carbonyl