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Abstract Obesity is believed to be associated with a dysregulated endocannabinoid system which may reflect enhanced inflammation. However, reports of this in human white adipose tissue (WAT) are limited and inconclusive. Marine long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC n-3 PUFAs) have anti-inflammatory actions and therefore may improve obesity-associated adipose tissue inflammation. Therefore, fatty acid (FA) concentrations, endocannabinoid concentrations, and gene expression were assessed in subcutaneous WAT (scWAT) biopsies from healthy normal weight individuals (BMI 18.5–25 kg/m2) and individuals living with metabolically healthy obesity (BMI 30–40 kg/m2) prior to and following a 12-week intervention with 3 g fish oil/day (1.1 g eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) + 0.8 g DHA) or 3 g corn oil/day (placebo). WAT from individuals living with metabolically healthy obesity had higher n-6 PUFAs and EPA, higher concentrations of two endocannabinoids (anandamide (AEA) and eicosapentaenoyl ethanolamide (EPEA)), higher expression of phospholipase A2 Group IID (PLA2G2D) and phospholipase A2 Group IVA (PLA2G4A), and lower expression of CNR1. In response to fish oil intervention, WAT EPA increased to a similar extent in both BMI groups, and WAT DHA increased by a greater extent in normal weight individuals. WAT EPEA and docosahexaenoyl ethanolamide (DHEA) increased in normal weight individuals only and WAT 2-arachidonyl glycerol (2-AG) decreased in individuals living with metabolically healthy obesity only. Altered WAT fatty acid, endocannabinoid, and gene expression profiles in metabolically healthy obesity at baseline may be linked. WAT incorporates n-3 PUFAs when their intake is increased which affects the endocannabinoid system; however, effects appear greater in normal weight individuals than in those living with metabolically healthy obesity.

Original publication




Journal article


Clinical Science


Portland Press Ltd.

Publication Date





185 - 200