Increased Cellular Uptake of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Phytosterols from Natural Micellar Oil

Clemens Röhrl, Flora Stübl, Martin Maier, Bettina Schwarzinger, Clemens Schwarzinger, Johannes Pitsch, Peter Lanzerstorfer, Marcus Iken, Julian Weghuber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The transport of hydrophobic compounds to recipient cells is a critical step in nutrient supplementation. Here, we tested the effect of phospholipid-based emulsification on the uptake of hydrophobic compounds into various tissue culture cell lines. In particular, the uptake of ω-3 fatty acids from micellar or nonmicellar algae oil into cell models for enterocytes, epithelial cells, and adipocytes was tested. Micellization of algae oil did not result in adverse effects on cell viability in the target cells. In general, both micellar and nonmicellar oil increased intracellular docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) levels. However, micellar oil was more effective in terms of augmenting the intracellular levels of total polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) than nonmicellar oil. These effects were rather conserved throughout the cells tested, indicating that fatty acids from micellar oils are enriched by mechanisms independent of lipases or lipid transporters. Importantly, the positive effect of emulsification was not restricted to the uptake of fatty acids. Instead, the uptake of phytosterols from phytogenic oils into target cells also increased after micellization. Taken together, phospholipid-based emulsification is a straightforward, effective, and safe approach to delivering hydrophobic nutrients, such as fatty acids or phytosterols, to a variety of cell types in vitro. It is proposed that this method of emulsification is suitable for the effective supplementation of numerous hydrophobic nutrients.
Original languageEnglish
Article number150
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2020


  • Algae oil
  • Cellular uptake
  • DHA
  • Fatty acid
  • Micellization
  • PUFAs
  • Phytosterols
  • Epithelial Cells/metabolism
  • Up-Regulation
  • Humans
  • Adipocytes/metabolism
  • Cell Survival/drug effects
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3/metabolism
  • Phytosterols/metabolism
  • Stramenopiles/chemistry
  • Plant Oils/pharmacology
  • Micelles
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated/metabolism
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Enterocytes/metabolism


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