Eicosapentaenoic acid but not docosahexaenoic acid restores skeletal muscle mitochondrial oxidative capacity in old mice

Matthew L. Johnson, Antigoni Z. Lalia, Surendra Dasari, Maximilian Pallauf, Mark Fitch, Marc K. Hellerstein, Ian R. Lanza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Mitochondrial dysfunction is often observed in aging skeletal muscle and is implicated in age-related declines in physical function. Early evidence suggests that dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) improve mitochondrial function. Here, we show that 10 weeks of dietary eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) supplementation partially attenuated the age-related decline in mitochondrial function in mice, but this effect was not observed with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The improvement in mitochondrial function with EPA occurred in the absence of any changes in mitochondrial abundance or biogenesis, which was evaluated from RNA sequencing, large-scale proteomics, and direct measurements of muscle mitochondrial protein synthesis rates. We find that EPA improves muscle protein quality, specifically by decreasing mitochondrial protein carbamylation, a post-translational modification that is driven by inflammation. These results demonstrate that EPA attenuated the age-related loss of mitochondrial function and improved mitochondrial protein quality through a mechanism that is likely linked with anti-inflammatory properties of n-3 PUFAs. Furthermore, we demonstrate that EPA and DHA exert some common biological effects (anticoagulation, anti-inflammatory, reduced FXR/RXR activation), but also exhibit many distinct biological effects, a finding that underscores the importance of evaluating the therapeutic potential of individual n-3 PUFAs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)734-743
Number of pages10
JournalAging Cell
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Aging
  • Docosahexaenoic acid
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid
  • Mitochondria
  • Omega 3
  • Proteomics
  • Sarcopenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Cell Biology


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