Microalgae have been considered as a renewable source of nutritional, cosmetic and pharmaceutical compounds. The ability to produce health-beneficial long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) is of high interest. LC-PUFA and their metabolic lipid mediators, modulate key inflammatory pathways in numerous models. In particular, the metabolism of arachidonic acid under inflammatory challenge influences the immune reactivity of macrophages. However, less is known about another omega-6 LC-PUFA, dihomo-γ-linolenic acid (DGLA), which exhibits potent anti-inflammatory activities, which contrast with its delta-5 desaturase product, arachidonic acid (ARA). In this work, we examined whether administrating DGLA would modulate the inflammatory response in the RAW264.7 murine macrophage cell line. DGLA was applied for 24 h in the forms of carboxylic (free) acid, ethyl ester, and ethyl esters obtained from the DGLA-accumulating delta-5 desaturase mutant strain P127 of the green microalga Lobosphaera incisa
. DGLA induced a dose-dependent increase in the RAW264.7 cells’ basal secretion of the prostaglandin PGE1. Upon bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimuli, the enhanced production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) and interleukin 1β (IL-1β), was affected little by DGLA, while interleukin 6 (IL-6), nitric oxide, and total reactive oxygen species (ROS) decreased significantly. DGLA administered at 100 µM in all forms attenuated the LPS-induced expression of the key inflammatory genes in a concerted manner, in particular iNOS
, and LxR
, in the form of free acid. PGE1 was the major prostaglandin detected in DGLA-supplemented culture supernatants, whose production prevailed over ARA-derived PGE2 and PGD2, which were less affected by LPS-stimulation compared with the vehicle control. An overall pattern of change indicated DGLA’s induced alleviation of the inflammatory state. Finally, our results indicate that microalgae-derived, DGLA-enriched ethyl esters (30%) exhibited similar activities to DGLA ethyl esters, strengthening the potential of this microalga as a potent source of this rare anti-inflammatory fatty acid.
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