New and in-progress EPA research

Cod liver oil omega 3 gel capsules isolated on white background

As a pioneer of EPA-only therapeutics it saddens and frustrates us here at Igennus to see published papers attributing their positive outcomes simply to omega-3, or specifically DHA, when EPA, more often than not, played a significant role in the result.

Due to EPA’s relatively low levels in cells, there is a silent struggle for it to be noticed as a key contributor and, as yet, few journalists and scientists are shouting from the rooftops about EPA’s unique benefits. Regardless, EPA truly is a fascinating, regularly overlooked and yet vital aspect of the therapeutic effects seen in most positive omega-3 studies. As EPA specialists, we are lucky to be able to unpick the complex puzzle that is EPA’s role in health and disease prevention; and whilst we eagerly await the scientific media catching up, a sea of studies are published each year that further establish EPA as a stand-alone therapy in a range of conditions. Below is a tiny selection of particularly interesting EPA studies, published on the first three pages (there are 687) of PubMed from the last few months:


August 2014: Supplementation with eicosapentaenoic acid-rich fish oil improves exercise economy and reduces perceived exertion during submaximal steady-state exercise in normal healthy untrained men.

Conclusion: The present study showed that EPA-rich fish oil supplementation improves exercise economy in humans.


August 2014: Impact of Eicosapentaenoic Acid Treatment on the Fibrous Cap Thickness in Patients with Coronary Atherosclerotic Plaque: An Optical Coherence Tomography Study.

Conclusions: In the present study, the administration of EPA for eight months significantly increased the fibrous cap thickness in patients with coronary atherosclerotic plaque.


August 2014: The role of polyunsaturated ω-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid-derived resolvin E1 (RvE1) in bone preservation.

Current data indicate that in addition to anti-inflammatory actions, RvE1 also directly acts on bone cells and promotes bone preservation.


July 2014: Prostatic and dietary omega-3 fatty acids and prostate cancer progression during active surveillance.

We found that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) was associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer progression when measured directly in the prostate tissue. Thus, this initial interim study analysis suggests that prostate tissue ω-3 fatty acids, especially EPA, may be protective against prostate cancer progression in men with low-risk prostate cancer.


June 2014: Eicosapentaenoic acid protects against palmitic acid-induced endothelial dysfunction via activation of the AMPK/eNOS pathway.

The intake of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) can decrease cardiovascular disease risks, but the protective mechanisms of EPA on endothelial cells remain unclear. In summary, these results provide new insight into the possible molecular mechanisms by which EPA protects against atherogenesis via the AMPK/eNOS-related pathway.


June 2014: Eicosapentaenoic acid/arachidonic acid ratio as a possible link between non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and cardiovascular disease.

Conclusion: EPA/AA ratio was lower in NAFLD, especially in younger NAFLD patients. Considering the high mortality from CVD in NAFLD patients, low EPA/AA ratio in young age may influence the increased prevalence of CVD in their older age. EPA/AA ratio is suggested to be a possible link between NAFLD and CVD, and would become a useful marker for CVD in NAFLD.


Jan 2014: Eicosapentaenoic acid free fatty acid prevents and suppresses colonic neoplasia in colitis-associated colorectalcancer acting on Notch signaling and gut microbiota.

our data suggest that EPA-FFA is an excellent candidate for CRC chemoprevention in CAC.


Jan 2014: Low plasma eicosapentaenoic acid levels are associated with elevated trait aggression and impulsivity in major depressive disorder with a history of comorbid substance use disorder.

In conclusion, low EPA levels were associated with aggression and impulsivity only in patients with MDD and comorbid SUD, even though in most cases SUD was in full sustained remission.

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Sophie Tully

About Sophie Tully

A trained pharmacologist, Sophie pursued her passion for health and nutrition by completing a master’s degree in Clinical & Public Health Nutrition at UCL, London. Sophie balances her Igennus role with her own private nutrition and health consultancy business working with elite athletes and the general public to achieve optimal health through lifestyle and dietary interventions. Sophie’s main research interests lie in the role of nutrition and lifestyle in inflammation, psychology and immunology. Sophie also lectures at the College of Naturopathic Medicine.