Rapid Incorporation of ω-3 Fatty Acids Into Colonic Tissue After Oral Supplementation in Patients With Colorectal Cancer: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Intervention Trial

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The purpose of the study was to examine whether a preoperative supplement with ω-3 fatty acids (FAs) leads to their incorporation into colonic tissue in patients scheduled for colorectal cancer surgery. This would be of interest because ω-3 FAs have potential beneficial (local) immunological effects that might benefit these patients.


In a randomized, double-blind, prospective, placebo-controlled, single-center intervention trial, patients referred for elective colorectal cancer surgery received either an ω-3 FA-enriched oral nutrition supplement (ONS) (200 mL twice daily) providing 2.0 g of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 1.0 g of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) per day or a standard ONS for 7 days before surgery. Tissue samples from healthy colonic tissue (mucosa and muscular layer) were obtained during surgery, and tissue fatty acid composition was analyzed by gas chromatography.


EPA was significantly higher in colonic mucosa (P = .001) and in the colonic muscular layer (P = .004) in the ω-3 FA group compared with controls. Patients in the ω-3 FA group also tended to have higher docosapentaenoic acid and DHA levels in colonic tissue.


EPA is incorporated rapidly into colonic mucosa and colonic muscular layer in patients given 3 g of ω-3 FA daily for 7 days before surgery for colorectal cancer. This may lead to potential beneficially effects on (local) immune function, which might benefit these patients.

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