Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicagofound that adding a lysophospholipid form of EPA to the diet can increase levels of EPA in the brains of mice 100-fold, according to a report in Science Daily.

Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA have anti-inflammatory effects, and have been shown to help conditions such as Alzheimer’s and depression, according to the report, but the amount of EPA necessary to increase levels in the brain is 40 to 50 milliliters daily. Papasani Subbaiah, professor of medicine and biochemistry and molecular genetics in the UIC College of Medicine and one of the authors of the paper in question, was quoted as saying, “We need to have a better way of getting EPA into the brain, because otherwise you need to consume so much of it that it’s just not practical.”

Providing EPA in the form of lysophospholipids, he said, allows it to do what other types of fish oil can’t: escape degradation by pancreatic enzymes.

“It seems that there is a transporter at the blood-brain barrier that EPA must pass through in order to get into the brain, but EPA in fish oil can’t get through, whereas LPC-EPA can,” Subbaiah explained. “You don’t have to consume all that much LPC-EPA to have significant increases of EPA show up in the brain, so this could be a way to do rigorous studies on the effects of EPA in humans.”

Another interesting side effect of the study, according to the report, is that the mice given LPC-EPA also ended up with increased levels of DHA in their brains.

This all suggests, according to Subbaiah, that human trials regarding the effects of EPA can be performed with actual results.