Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Access
  • Cited by 82
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Abbott, Kylie A. Veysey, Martin Lucock, Mark Niblett, Suzanne King, Katrina Burrows, Tracy and Garg, Manohar L. 2016. Sex-dependent association between erythrocyte n-3 PUFA and type 2 diabetes in older overweight people. British Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 115, Issue. 08, p. 1379.

    Balogun, Kayode A. and Cheema, Sukhinder K. 2016. Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acids Prevented Adipocyte Hypertrophy by Downregulating DGAT-2 and FABP-4 in a Sex-Dependent Fashion. Lipids, Vol. 51, Issue. 1, p. 25.

    Castellini, Cesare Dal Bosco, Alessandro Mattioli, Simona Davidescu, Magdalena Corazzi, Lanfranco Macchioni, Lara Rimoldi, Simona and Terova, Genciana 2016. Activity, Expression, and Substrate Preference of the Δ6-Desaturase in Slow- or Fast-Growing Rabbit Genotypes. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Vol. 64, Issue. 4, p. 792.

    Chowdhury, Rajiv Steur, Marinka Patel, Pinal S. and Franco, Oscar H. 2016. Handbook of Lipids in Human Function.

    Ferguson, Jessica J.A. Veysey, Martin Lucock, Mark Niblett, Suzanne King, Katrina MacDonald-Wicks, Lesley and Garg, Manohar L. 2016. Association between omega-3 index and blood lipids in older Australians. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, Vol. 27, p. 233.

    González-Gil, E M Santabárbara, J Siani, A Ahrens, W Sioen, I Eiben, G Günther, K Iacoviello, L Molnar, D Risé, P Russo, P Tornaritis, M Veidebaum, T Galli, C and Moreno, L A 2016. Whole-blood fatty acids and inflammation in European children: the IDEFICS Study. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 70, Issue. 7, p. 819.

    Hanson, Jennifer A. Lin, Yu-Hong Dretsch, Michael N. Strandjord, Sarah E. Haub, Mark D. and Hibbeln, Joseph R. 2016. Whole food, functional food, and supplement sources of omega-3 fatty acids and omega-3 HUFA scores among U.S. soldiers. Journal of Functional Foods, Vol. 23, p. 167.

    Iwamatsu, Koichi Abe, Shichiro Nishida, Hiroaki Kageyama, Michiya Nasuno, Takahisa Sakuma, Masashi Toyoda, Shigeru and Inoue, Teruo 2016. Which has the stronger impact on coronary artery disease, eicosapentaenoic acid or docosahexaenoic acid?. Hypertension Research, Vol. 39, Issue. 4, p. 272.

    Kleber, Marcus E. Delgado, Graciela E. Lorkowski, Stefan März, Winfried and von Schacky, Clemens 2016. Omega-3 fatty acids and mortality in patients referred for coronary angiography. The Ludwigshafen Risk and Cardiovascular Health Study. Atherosclerosis,

    Kuhnt, Katrin Weiß, Stefanie Kiehntopf, Michael and Jahreis, Gerhard 2016. Consumption of echium oil increases EPA and DPA in blood fractions more efficiently compared to linseed oil in humans. Lipids in Health and Disease, Vol. 15, Issue. 1,

    McNamara, Robert K. 2016. Role of Omega-3 fatty acids in the etiology, treatment, and prevention of depression: Current status and future directions. Journal of Nutrition & Intermediary Metabolism, Vol. 5, p. 96.

    Średnicka-Tober, Dominika Barański, Marcin Seal, Chris J. Sanderson, Roy Benbrook, Charles Steinshamn, Håvard Gromadzka-Ostrowska, Joanna Rembiałkowska, Ewa Skwarło-Sońta, Krystyna Eyre, Mick Cozzi, Giulio Larsen, Mette Krogh Jordon, Teresa Niggli, Urs Sakowski, Tomasz Calder, Philip C. Burdge, Graham C. Sotiraki, Smaragda Stefanakis, Alexandros Stergiadis, Sokratis Yolcu, Halil Chatzidimitriou, Eleni Butler, Gillian Stewart, Gavin and Leifert, Carlo 2016. Higher PUFA and n-3 PUFA, conjugated linoleic acid, α-tocopherol and iron, but lower iodine and selenium concentrations in organic milk: a systematic literature review and meta- and redundancy analyses. British Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 115, Issue. 06, p. 1043.

    Choque, Benjamin Catheline, Daniel Delplanque, Bernadette Guesnet, Philippe and Legrand, Philippe 2015. Dietary linoleic acid requirements in the presence of α-linolenic acid are lower than the historical 2 % of energy intake value, study in rats. British Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 113, Issue. 07, p. 1056.

    de Theije, Caroline G.M. van den Elsen, Lieke W.J. Willemsen, Linette E.M. Milosevic, Vanja Korte-Bouws, Gerdien A.H. Lopes da Silva, Sofia Broersen, Laus M. Korte, S.Mechiel Olivier, Berend Garssen, Johan and Kraneveld, Aletta D. 2015. Dietary long chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids prevent impaired social behaviour and normalize brain dopamine levels in food allergic mice. Neuropharmacology, Vol. 90, p. 15.

    Eriksdotter, Maria Vedin, Inger Falahati, Farshad Freund-Levi, Yvonne Hjorth, Erik Faxen-Irving, Gerd Wahlund, Lars-Olof Schultzberg, Marianne Basun, Hans Cederholm, Tommy and Palmblad, Jan 2015. Plasma Fatty Acid Profiles in Relation to Cognition and Gender in Alzheimer’s Disease Patients During Oral Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation: The OmegAD Study. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, Vol. 48, Issue. 3, p. 805.

    Fukami, Ako Adachi, Hisashi Hirai, Yuji Enomoto, Mika Otsuka, Maki Kumagai, Eita Nakamura, Sachiko Yoshimura, Ayako Obuchi, Aya Nohara, Yume Nakao, Erika Hori, Kensuke and Fukumoto, Yoshihiro 2015. Association of serum eicosapentaenoic acid to arachidonic acid ratio with microalbuminuria in a population of community-dwelling Japanese. Atherosclerosis, Vol. 239, Issue. 2, p. 577.

    Hamazaki, Kei Maekawa, Motoko Toyota, Tomoko Dean, Brian Hamazaki, Tomohito and Yoshikawa, Takeo 2015. Fatty acid composition of the postmortem prefrontal cortex of patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. Psychiatry Research, Vol. 227, Issue. 2-3, p. 353.

    Maditz, Kaitlin H Smith, Brenda J Miller, Matthew Oldaker, Chris and Tou, Janet C 2015. Feeding soy protein isolate and oils rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids affected mineral balance, but not bone in a rat model of autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease. BMC Nephrology, Vol. 16, Issue. 1, p. 13.

    McNamara, Robert and Valentine, Christina 2015. Nutrition for Brain Health and Cognitive Performance.

    Wagner, A Simon, C Morio, B Dallongeville, J Ruidavets, J B Haas, B Laillet, B Cottel, D Ferrières, J and Arveiler, D 2015. Omega-3 index levels and associated factors in a middle-aged French population: the MONA LISA-NUT Study. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 69, Issue. 4, p. 436.


Gender differences in the n-3 fatty acid content of tissues

  • Caroline E. Childs (a1), Meritxell Romeu-Nadal (a2), Graham C. Burdge (a1) and Philip C. Calder (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 January 2008

Dietary n-3 PUFA have many beneficial effects on cell and tissue function and on human health. In mammals the n-3 essential fatty acid α-linolenic acid (ALNA) can be converted into longer-chain (LC) n-3 PUFA such as EPA and DHA via a series of desaturase and elongase enzymes that are mainly active in the liver. Human studies have identified that males and females appear to differ in their ability to synthesise EPA and DHA from ALNA, with associated differences in circulating concentrations. Based on studies of women using the contraceptive pill or hormone-replacement therapy and of trans-sexual subjects it is suggested that sex hormones play a role in these differences. The rat has been used to investigate gender differences in n-3 PUFA status since this model allows greater dietary control than is possible in human subjects. Like human subjects, female rats have higher plasma DHA concentrations than males. Rats also respond to increased dietary ALNA in a way that is comparable with available human data. The concentrations of LC n-3 PUFA in rat plasma and tissues are positively associated with circulating concentrations of oestradiol and progesterone and negatively associated with circulating concentrations of testosterone. These findings suggest that sex hormones act to modify plasma and tissue n-3 PUFA content, possibly by altering the expression of desaturase and elongase enzymes in the liver, which is currently under investigation.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Gender differences in the n-3 fatty acid content of tissues
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Gender differences in the n-3 fatty acid content of tissues
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Gender differences in the n-3 fatty acid content of tissues
      Available formats
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Mrs Caroline E. Childs, fax +44 2380 795255, email
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

1. CD Stubbs & AD Smith (1984) The modification of mammalian membrane polyunsaturated fatty acid composition in relation to membrane fluidity and function. Biochim Biophys Acta 779, 89137.

2. K Schoonjans , B Staels & J Auwerx (1996) The peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPARS) and their effects on lipid metabolism and adipocyte differentiation. Biochim Biophys Acta 1302, 93109.

3. H Sampath & JM Ntambi (2004) Polyunsaturated fatty acid regulation of gene expression. Nutr Rev 62, 333339.

5. SL Tilley , TM Coffman & BH Koller (2001) Mixed messages: modulation of inflammation and immune responses by prostaglandins and thromboxanes. J Clin Invest 108, 1523.

6. PC Calder (2003) N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and inflammation: from molecular biology to the clinic. Lipids 38, 343352.

8. BD Levy , CB Clish , B Schmidt , K Gronert & CN Serhan (2001) Lipid mediator class switching during acute inflammation: signals in resolution. Nat Immunol 2, 612619.

9. CN Serhan , M Arita , S Hong & K Gotlinger (2004) Resolvins, docosatrienes, and neuroprotectins, novel omega-3-derived mediators, and their endogenous aspirin-triggered epimers. Lipids 39, 11251132.

10. J Liu , HC Yeo , SJ Doniger & BN Ames (1997) Assay of aldehydes from lipid peroxidation: gas chromatography-mass spectrometry compared to thiobarbituric acid. Anal Biochem 245, 161166.

16. PM Kris-Etherton , WS Harris & LJ Appel (2002) Fish consumption, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, and cardiovascular disease. Circulation 106, 27472757.

17. PC Calder (2004) n-3 Fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: evidence explained and mechanisms explored. Clin Sci 107, 111.

19. GISSI-Prevenzione (1999) Dietary supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E after myocardial infarction: results of the GISSI-Prevenzione trial. Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell'Infarto miocardico. Lancet 354, 447455.

21. J Farquharson , EC Jamieson , RW Logan , WJ Patrick , AG Howatson & F Cockburn (1995) Age- and dietary-related distributions of hepatic arachidonic and docosahexaenoic acid in early infancy. Pediatr Res 38, 361365.

22. L Lauritzen , HS Hansen , MH Jorgensen & KF Michaelsen (2001) The essentiality of long chain n-3 fatty acids in relation to development and function of the brain and retina. Prog Lipid Res 40, 194.

23. JP SanGiovanni , S Parra-Cabrera , GA Colditz , CS Berkey & JT Dwyer (2000) Meta-analysis of dietary essential fatty acids and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids as they relate to visual resolution acuity in healthy preterm infants. Pediatrics 105, 12921298.

25. AJ Richardson (2006) Omega-3 fatty acids in ADHD and related neurodevelopmental disorders. Int Rev Psychiatry 18, 155172.

26. MP Freeman , JR Hibbeln , KL Wisner (2006) Omega-3 fatty acids: evidence basis for treatment and future research in psychiatry. J Clin Psychiatry 67, 19541967.

28. AE Leonard , SL Pereira , H Sprecher & YS Huang (2004) Elongation of long-chain fatty acids. Prog Lipid Res 43, 3654.

30. LG Cleland , RA Gibson , J Pedler & MJ James (2005) Paradoxical effect of n-3 containing vegetable oils on long-chain n-3 fatty acids in rat heart. Lipids 40, 995998.

38. T Nikkari , P Luukkainen , P Pietinen & P Puska (1995) Fatty acid composition of serum lipid fractions in relation to gender and quality of dietary fat. Ann Med 27, 491498.

41. FL Crowe , CM Skeaff & TJ Green (2008) Serum n-3 long-chain PUFA differ by sex and age in a population-based survey of New Zealand adolescents and adults. Br J Nutr (In the Press).

42. AE Jones , JL Murphy , M Stolinski & SA Wootton (1998) The effect of age and gender on the metabolic disposal of [1–13C] palmitic acid. Eur J Clin Nutr 52, 2228.

43. R Tavendale , AJ Lee , WC Smith & H Tunstall-Pedoe (1992) Adipose tissue fatty acids in Scottish men and women: results from the Scottish Heart Health Study. Atherosclerosis 94, 161169.

44. T Raclot , D Langin , M Lafontan & R Groscolas (1997) Selective release of human adipocyte fatty acids according to molecular structure. Biochem J 324, 911915.

45. T Raclot (2003) Selective mobilization of fatty acids from adipose tissue triacylglycerols. Prog Lipid Res 42, 257288.

46. H Sumino , S Ichikawa , M Murakami , T Nakamura , T Kanda , T Sakamaki , H Mizunuma & M Kurabayashi (2003) Effects of hormone replacement therapy on circulating docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid levels in postmenopausal women. Endocr J 50, 5159.

47. EJ Giltay , EJ Duschek , MB Katan , PL Zock , SJ Neele & JC Netelenbos (2004) Raloxifene and hormone replacement therapy increase arachidonic acid and docosahexaenoic acid levels in postmenopausal women. J Endocrinol 182, 399408.

48. LA Mattsson , G Silfverstolpe & G Samsioe (1985) Fatty acid composition of serum lecithin and cholesterol ester in the normal menstrual cycle. Horm Metab Res 17, 414417.

49. MC Ocke , HB Bueno-de-Mesquita , HE Goddijn , A Jansen , MA Pols , WA Van Staveren & D Kromhout (1997) The Dutch EPIC food frequency questionnaire. I. Description of the questionnaire, and relative validity and reproducibility for food groups. Int J Epidemiol 26, Suppl. 1, S37S48.

50. CA Marra , MJ de Alaniz & RR Brenner (1988) Effect of various steroids on the biosynthesis of arachidonic acid in isolated hepatocytes and HTC cells. Lipids 23, 10531058.

51. S Gonzalez , AM Nervi & RO Peluffo (1986) Effects of estradiol and environmental temperature changes on rat liver delta 6 microsomal desaturase activity. Lipids 21, 440443.

52. CA Marra & MJ de Alaniz (1989) Influence of testosterone administration on the biosynthesis of unsaturated fatty acids in male and female rats. Lipids 24, 10141019.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Proceedings of the Nutrition Society
  • ISSN: 0029-6651
  • EISSN: 1475-2719
  • URL: /core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *