American journal of veterinary research2005; 66(9); 1503-1508; doi: 10.2460/ajvr.2005.66.1503

Effects of the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid, on lipopolysaccharide-challenged synovial explants from horses.

Abstract: To determine the effects of pretreatment with alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, on equine synovial explants challenged with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Methods: 8 mature mixed-breed horses (4 mares and 4 geldings). Methods: Synovial explants were assigned to receive 1 of 7 concentrations of alpha-linolenic acid, ranging from 0 to 300 microg/mL. At each concentration, half of the explants were controls and half were challenged with 0.003 microg of LPS as a model of synovial inflammation. Cell inflammatory response was evaluated by measurement of prostaglandin E2 production via an ELISA. Synovial cell viability, function, histomorphologic characteristics, and cell membrane composition were evaluated by use of trypan blue dye exclusion, hexuronic acid assay for hyaluronic acid, objective microscopic scoring, and high-performance liquid chromatography, respectively. Results: Challenge with LPS significantly increased production of prostaglandin E2 and decreased production of hyaluronic acid. Treatment with alpha-linolenic acid at the highest dose inhibited prostaglandin E2 production. Cell viability and histomorphologic characteristics were not altered by treatment with alpha-linolenic acid or LPS challenge. Treatment with alpha-linolenic acid increased the percentage of this fatty acid in the explant cell membranes. Conclusions: Results suggest that investigation of alpha-linolenic acid as an anti-inflammatory medication for equine synovitis is warranted.
Publication Date: 2005-11-03 PubMed ID: 16261822DOI: 10.2460/ajvr.2005.66.1503Google Scholar: Lookup
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  • Comparative Study
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support
  • Non-U.S. Gov't


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The research examines the effects of the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid, on inflammation in horse synovial tissue due to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) exposure, revealing potential anti-inflammatory benefits.

Research Methods

  • The study included eight mature horses of mixed breeds. The synovial tissue explants from these horses were exposed to seven different concentrations of alpha-linolenic acid ranging from 0 to 300 micrograms per milliliter.
  • In each concentration, half of the explants were treated as controls and the other half were exposed to 0.003 micrograms of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), which is a model that induces inflammation in the synovial tissue.
  • The research team assessed this inflammatory response by measuring the production of a compound called prostaglandin E2 through a testing method called ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay).
  • Additional evaluations were carried out to determine the health and functionality of the synovial cells. These assessments included the use of trypan blue dye exclusion to evaluate cell viability; hexuronic acid assay for assessing hyaluronic acid production that indicates cell function; objective microscopic scoring to evaluate histomorphologic characteristics; and high-performance liquid chromatography to assess cell membrane composition.

Research Findings

  • LPS exposure resulted in an increased production of prostaglandin E2 and decreased production of hyaluronic acid, indicating an activated inflammatory process.
  • Administering alpha-linolenic acid at high doses was found to inhibit prostaglandin E2 production, suggesting its potential anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Different doses of alpha-linolenic acid and the LPS challenge did not cause any changes in cell viability and histomorphologic characteristics, indicating that the acid does not harm the cells, and inflammation does not change their structure.
  • Alpha-linolenic acid treatment led to an increased percentage of this fatty acid in the cell membranes of explants, indicating the explants’ integration of the acid into their structure.


This research suggests the potential anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid on horse synovial tissue. Its capacity to inhibit the production of inflammation marker prostaglandin E2 warrants further investigation into its potential as a treatment for equine synovitis, an inflammatory condition affecting the joint tissues in horses. This study provides substantial preliminary data, highlighting alpha-linolenic acid as a possible anti-inflammatory medication.

Cite This Article

Munsterman AS, Bertone AL, Zachos TA, Weisbrode SE. (2005). Effects of the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid, on lipopolysaccharide-challenged synovial explants from horses. Am J Vet Res, 66(9), 1503-1508.


ISSN: 0002-9645
NlmUniqueID: 0375011
Country: United States
Language: English
Volume: 66
Issue: 9
Pages: 1503-1508

Researcher Affiliations

Munsterman, Amelia S
  • Comparative Orthopedic Molecular Medicine Research Laboratories, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.
Bertone, Alicia L
    Zachos, Terri A
      Weisbrode, Steven E

        MeSH Terms

        • Analysis of Variance
        • Animals
        • Cell Survival / drug effects
        • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / veterinary
        • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
        • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / veterinary
        • Fatty Acids / metabolism
        • Horses / metabolism
        • Hyaluronic Acid / metabolism
        • Lipopolysaccharides / administration & dosage
        • Prostaglandins E / metabolism
        • Synovial Membrane / cytology
        • Synovial Membrane / metabolism
        • alpha-Linolenic Acid / pharmacology


        This article has been cited 3 times.
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        3. Hurst S, Rees SG, Randerson PF, Caterson B, Harwood JL. Contrasting effects of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids on cyclooxygenase-2 in model systems for arthritis.. Lipids 2009 Oct;44(10):889-96.
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