Increased content of long chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCn-3PUFA) in cellular membranes results in increased susceptibility to lipid peroxidation. Antioxidants such as lycopene prevent lipid peroxidation and oxidative degradation. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of LCn-3PUFA supplementation on lycopene levels in cultured airway epithelial cells. Airway epithelial cells (Calu-3) were incubated with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), lycopene-DHA and lycopene-EPA for 24 h. The fatty acid incorporation into the cells was analyzed using gas chromatography. Intracellular lycopene concentration was determined using high-performance liquid chromatography. It was found that EPA (10.6%) and DHA (19.5%) were incorporated into Calu-3 cells. It was also found that increased incorporation of DHA (and to a lesser extent EPA) resulted in decreased intracellular lycopene levels. These findings suggest that supplementation with LCn-3PUFA increases the cellular need for antioxidants.
Journal of Food Lipids Vol. 15, Issue 4, p. 421-432