Research Spotlight: World Oceans Day!

Posted on May 26, 2021

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In honor of World Oceans Day on June 8, 2021, let’s take a look at some interesting facts about the ocean.

  • The ocean is responsible for producing somewhere between 50 and 80% of the Earth’s oxygen.
  • Oceans make up 71% of Earth. This equates to 321,003,271 cubic miles of water or approximately enough to fill up 352,670,000,000,000,000 gallon water jugs. That’s a lot of water!
  • It has been estimated that somewhere between 700,000 and 1 million species live in the ocean which is about 95% of all species on planet Earth. Humans have only been able to identify and record some 300,000 species so far.

With only about 5% of the planet’s oceans being explored so far, we have much to learn about the ocean and its inhabitants. Lipids are an important part of ocean life and have been studied extensively over the years. A review written in 2017 reveals just how important marine lipids can be in cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.

Diet-induced chronic diseases are a pandemic of their own in countries with westernized diets that are rich in refined carbohydrates, cholesterol, saturated and trans fats, and have an increased ratio of ω-6/ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). These diseases include cardiovascular disease (CVD), obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hyperinsulinemia, osteoporosis, osteopenia, and cancer. Roughly 25% of adult populations in countries with westernized diets suffer from Metabolic Syndrome (MetS). MetS is a set of risk factors associated with CVD and type 2 diabetes. Some of these factors are dyslipidemia, hyperglycemia, hypertension, insulin resistance, and obesity. Inflammation and oxidative stress have also been closely linked to MetS. So, how do marine lipids fit into this story?

Marine lipids, particularly polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have been studied extensively for their ability to help prevent inflammatory processes and metabolic diseases. EPA and DHA and their bioactivity in humans have been studied since the 1960s. The studies showed that humans with a higher intake of fish in their diet were at a lower risk of CVD. Marine PUFAs have also been studied and were shown to reduce metabolic disorder symptoms such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and insulin resistance. Over 13,100 publications since the 1950s have taken advantage of proteomics and/or lipidomics to study the role that marine lipids play in the prevention of chronic pathologies.

Lipidomics has only recently been gaining interest as a means to assess and analyze the effect that marine lipids have on human health. This is due to the complex nature of lipidomes and that thousands of networks and pathways must be characterized to have a full cause/affect understanding. Marine PUFAs are precursors to three primary lipid intermediates: arachidonic acid (ARA), EPA, and DHA. From these intermediates are formed several families of lipids responsible for a variety of functions in living organisms. These families include leukotrienes, prostaglandins, isoprostanes, resolvins, thromboxanes, monohydroxy-, dihydroxy-, and epoxy-eicosanoids. Lipidomics of these bioactive molecules has been used in human clinical trials, animal studies, and cell culture studies. Many studies have focused on healthy humans to determine a baseline of the plasma/serum lipidome. Other studies have investigated the plasma/serum lipidome in humans or animals suffering from metabolic syndrome, hyperlipidemia, obesity, coronary heart disease, hypertriacylglycerolemia, overweight, hypercholesterolemia, and many others.

These studies revealed that there are some health effects associated with marine lipid intake. One study conducted in healthy overweight men targeted the plasma lipidome and found that a 5-week diet consisting of an added 380 mg EPA and 260 mg DHA among other anti-inflammatory compounds regulated plasma proteins and metabolites related to inflammation, endothelial function, oxidative stress, and increased fatty acid oxidation. Another study conducted in aging mice having previously suffered from myocardial infarction found that a diet with a ω-6:ω-3 PUFA ratio of 442:1 resulted in increased macrophage inflammatory protein 1, increased ARA and 12(S)-HETE as well as altered levels of inflammation resolving enzymes 5-LOX, COX-2, and heme oxygenase-1.

Underlying mechanisms of marine lipids, as well as lipids from other sources, and their effect on human health are of increasing interest. Lipidomics, combined with proteomics and the rest of the -omics family, continues to further our knowledge in this area. Avanti is a frontrunner in developing lipid and lipidomics technologies for studies such as these. We are excited to be involved in gaining deeper insight into the ocean’s lipids and how they can improve our lives! Happy World Ocean Day! Don’t forget to check out all of our lipid and lipidomics products by clicking HERE!

To read more, check out the following sources:

10 Unbeliveable Facts About the Ocean

11 Deeply Interesting Facts About Our Oceans

"Marine Lipids on Cadiovascular Diseases and Other Chronic Diseases Induced by Diet: An Insight Provided by Proteomics and Lipidomics"