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Flaxseed oil increases aortic reactivity to phenylephrine through reactive oxygen species and the cyclooxygenase-2 pathway in rats

Dieli Oliveira Nunes1, Camila Cruz Pereira Almenara1, Gilson Brás Broseghini-Filho1, Marito Afonso Sousa Costa Silva1, Ivanita Stefanon1, Dalton V Vassallo12 and Alessandra S Padilha1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Physiological Sciences, Federal University of Espirito Santo, Av. Marechal Campos, 1468, Maruípe, 29040-091 Vitória, ES, Brazil

2 Health Science Center of Vitoria - EMESCAM, Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil

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Lipids in Health and Disease 2014, 13:107  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-13-107

Published: 3 July 2014



Flaxseed oil has the highest concentration of omega-3 α-linolenic acid, which has been associated with cardiovascular benefit. However, the mechanism underlying the vascular effects induced through flaxseed oil is not well known. Thus, in the present study, we investigated the effects of flaxseed oil on vascular function in isolated rat aortic rings.


Wistar rats were treated daily with flaxseed oil or a control (mineral oil) intramuscular (i.m.) for fifteen days. Isolated aortic segments were used to evaluate cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) protein expression, superoxide anion levels and vascular reactivity experiments.


Flaxseed oil treatment increased the vasoconstrictor response of aortic rings to phenylephrine. Endothelium removal increased the response to phenylephrine in aortic segments isolated from both groups, but the effect was smaller in the treated group. L-NAME incubation similarly increased the phenylephrine response in segments from both groups. The TXA2 synthase inhibitor furegrelate, the selective COX-2 inhibitor NS 398, the TP receptor antagonist SQ 29.548, the reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenger apocynin, the superoxide anion scavengers tiron and the phospholipase A2 inhibitor dexamethasone partially reversed the flaxseed oil-induced increase in reactivity to phenylephrine.


These findings suggest that flaxseed oil treatment increased vascular reactivity to phenylephrine through an increase in ROS production and COX-2-derived TXA2 production. The results obtained in the present study provide new insight into the effects of flaxseed oil treatment (i.m.) on vascular function.

Omega-3; Flaxseed oil; Aorta; Vascular reactivity; Oxidative stress