Immunomodulating effects of 13- and 16-hydroxylated docosahexaenoyl ethanolamide in LPS stimulated RAW264.7 macrophages

Ian de Bus, Sandra van Krimpen, Guido J. Hooiveld, Mark V. Boekschoten, Mieke Poland, Renger Witkamp, Bauke Albada*, Michiel Balvers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Docosahexaenoyl ethanolamide (DHEA), the ethanolamine conjugate of the n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid, is endogenously present in the human circulation and in tissues. Its immunomodulating properties have been (partly) attributed to an interaction with the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme. Recently, we discovered that COX-2 converts DHEA into two oxygenated metabolites, 13- and 16-hydroxylated-DHEA (13- and 16-HDHEA, respectively). It remained unclear whether these oxygenated metabolites also display immunomodulating properties like their parent DHEA. In the current study we investigated the immunomodulating properties of 13- and 16-HDHEA in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated RAW264.7 macrophages. The compounds reduced production of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα), interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-1Ra, but did not affect nitric oxide (NO) and IL-6 release. Transcriptome analysis showed that the compounds inhibited the LPS-mediated induction of pro-inflammatory genes (InhbA, Ifit1) and suggested potential inhibition of regulators such as toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), MyD88, and interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF3), whereas anti-inflammatory genes (SerpinB2) and potential regulators IL-10, sirtuin 1 (Sirt-1), fluticasone propionate were induced. Additionally, transcriptome analysis of 13-HDHEA suggests a potential anti-angiogenic role. In contrast to the known oxylipin-lowering effects of DHEA, liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analyses revealed that 13- and 16-HDHEA did not affect oxylipin formation. Overall, the anti-inflammatory effects of 13-HDHEA and 16-HDHEA are less pronounced compared to their parent molecule DHEA. Therefore, we propose that COX-2 metabolism of DHEA acts as a regulatory mechanism to limit the anti-inflammatory properties of DHEA.
Original languageEnglish
Article number158908
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta. Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Cyclooxygenase
  • Docosahexaenoyl ethanolamide
  • Endocannabinoid
  • Immunomodulation
  • Macrophage
  • Transcriptome


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