To what extent are hake fat and its oil quality affected by the parasite Lernaeocera lusci?




Fatty acid, Lernaeocera lusci, Merluccius merluccius, Nutritional quality index, Parasite load


The copepod Lernaeosera lusci is a common ectoparasite of the hake Merluccius merluccius, which constitutes its definitive host. The present study is the first to investigate the impact of L. lusci and its infection intensity on the fatty acid (FA) composition and oil quality of its host. The results revealed a substantial decrease in the total FA content, which dropped by 50, 70 and 83% when fish was infected by one (L1), two (L2) and three (L3) parasites, respectively. The lipid profile showed a tendency for a significant decrease in the saturated fatty acid (SFA), monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) levels in all parasitized groups and in a parasite load dependant manner (p < 0.05). The same tendency was observed for the most commonly analysed FA and in particular for essential FA, such as e arachidonic (ARA), eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids, which showed smaller amounts associated with L. lusci co-infection. From a nutritional standpoint, our findings revealed that L. lusci is able to cause severe deterioration in the nutritional quality of its host oil. In addition to the increase in the thrombogenicity index (IT) and the high atherogenicity index (IA) values, the low hypocholesterolemic / hypercholesterolemic fatty acid ratio (H/H) and the modest amount of DHA+EPA (20 and 10 mg/100g) recorded at heavy infection levels make the parasitized fish inadequate sources of these PUFA and unsuitable for consumers with special dietary needs.


Download data is not yet available.


Arts MT, Ackman RG, Holub BJ. 2001. "Essential fatty acids" in aquatic ecosystems: A crucial link between diet and human health and evolution. Can. J. Fish Aquat. Sci. 58,122–137.

Billman GE, Kang JX, Leaf A. 1999. Prevention of sudden cardiac death by dietary pure omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in dogs. Circulation 99, 2452–2457. PMid:10318669

British Nutrition Foundation. 1992. Unsaturated fatty acids: nutritional and physiological significance. Report of British Nutrition Foundation: Chapman & Hall. London.

Calder PC. 2010. Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Inflammatory Processes. Nutrients 2, 355–374. PMid:22254027 PMCid:PMC3257651

Cecchi G, Basini S, Castano C. 1985. Méthanolyse rapide des huiles en solvant. Rev. Fr. Corps Gras 4, 63–164.

Connor WE. 2000. Importance of n-3 fatty acids in health and disease. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 71, 171S–175S. PMid:10617967

Corrales GP, Rivero NL. 2013. Role of hake as a source of omega-3 fatty acids in cardiovascular disease prevention. Clin. Nutr. 32, 660. PMid:23683862

Department of Health and Social Security. 1994. Nutritional aspects of cardiovascular disease. Report of the Cardiovascular Review Group Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy. Rep. Health Soc. Subj. (Lond) 46, 1–186.

Eiras JC. 1986. Some aspects of the infection of bib, Trisopterus luscus (L.), by the parasitic copepod Lernaeocera lusci (Bassett-Smith, 1896) in Portuguese waters. J. Fish Biol. 28, 141–145.

Evans NA, Whitfield PJ, Bamber N, Espin PM. 1983. Lernaeocera lusci (Copepoda: Pennellidae) on bib (Trisopterus luscus) from Southampton Water. Parasitology 86, 161–173.

Fast MD, Ross NW, Craft CA, Locke SJ, Mackinnon SL, Johnson SC. 2004. Lepeophtheirus salmonis: characterization of prostaglandin E2 in secretory products of the salmon louse by RP-HPLC and mass spectrometry. Exp. Parasitol. 107, 5–13. PMid:15208032

Fernandes CE, Vasconcelos MA, Ribeiro MdeA, Sarubbo LA, Andrade SA, Filho AB. 2014. Nutritional and lipid profiles in marine fish species from Brazil. Food Chem. 160, 67–71. PMid:24799210

Folch J, Lees M, Sloane-Stanley GA. 1957. A simple method for the isolation and purification of total lipids from animal tissues. J. Biol. Chem. 226, 497–509. PMid:13428781

Hajji T, Telahigue K, Bennour S, Gharbi M, El Cafsi M. 2015. Impact of Peroderma cylindricum (Copepoda: Pennellidae) infection on fatty acid composition and lipid quality of sardine (Sardina pilchardus). J. Parasitol. 101, 682–686. PMid:26244411

Hossain MA. 2011. Fish as source of n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs), which one is better-farmed or wild? Adv. J. Food Sci. Technol. 3, 455–466.

Hosseini H, Mahmoudzadeh M, Rezaei M, Mahmoudzadeh LK, Babakhani A. 2014. Effect of different cooking methods on minerals, vitamins and nutritional quality indices of kutum roach (Rutilus frisii kutum). Food Chem. 148, 86–91. PMid:24262530

Huynh MD, Kitts DD. 2009. Evaluating nutritional quality of pacific fish species from fatty acid signatures. Food Chem. 114, 912–918.

Khan RA. 1988. Experimental transmission, development, and effects of a parasitic copepod, Lernaeocera branchialis, on Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua. J. Parasitol. 74, 586–599. PMid:3397819

Kris-Etherton PM, Harris WS, Appel LJ. 2003. Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: New recommendations from the American Heart Association. Arterioscler. Thromb. Vasc. Biol. 23, 151–152. PMid:12588750

Leiknes O, Etter S A, Tokle NE, Bergvik M, Vadstein O, Olsen Y. 2016. The effect of essential fatty acids for the somatic growth in nauplii of Calanus finmarchicus. Front. Mar. Sci. 3, 33.

Mendez E, Gonzalez RM. 1997. Seasonal changes in the chemical and lipid composition of fillets of the Southwest Atlantic hake (Merluccius hubbsi). Food Chem. 59, 213–217.

Rafieian-Kopaei M., Setorki M, Doudi M, Baradaran A, Nasri H. 2014. Atherosclerosis: Process, Indicators, Risk Factors and New Hopes. Int. J. Prev. Med. 5, 927–946. PMid:25489440 PMCid:PMC4258672

R Core Team. 2017. R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing. Vienna, Austria.

Ruxton CH, Reed SC, Simpson MJ, Millington KJ. 2004. The health benefits of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: a review of the evidence. J. Hum. Nutr. Diet. 17, 449–459. PMid:15357699

Santos-Silva J, Bessa RJB, Santos-Silva F. 2002. Effects of genotype, feeding system and slaughter weight on the quality of light lambs: II. Fatty acid composition of meat. Livest. Prod. Sci. 77, 187–194.

Satio H, Yamashiro R, Alasalvar C, Konno T. 1999. Influence of diet on fatty acids of three subtropical fish, subfamily Caesioninae (Caesio digrumna and C. tile) and family siganidae (Siganus canaliculatus). Lipids 34, 1073–1082.

Smith JL, Wootten R, Sommerville C. 2007. The pathology of the early stages of the crustacean parasite, Lernaeocera branchialis (L.), on Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua (L). J. Fish Dis. 30, 1–11.

Stancheva M, Merdzhanova A, Dobreva DA, Makedonski L. 2014. Common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and European catfish (Silurus glanis) from Danube River as sources of fat soluble vitamins and fatty acids. Czech. J. Food Sci. 32, 16–24.

Strandberg U, Bhavsar SP, Arts MT. 2017. Estimation of omega-3 fatty acid (EPA + DHA) intake from Lake Ontario fish based on provincial consumption advisories. J. Great Lakes Res. 43, 1132–1140.

Swanson D, Block R, Mousa SA. 2012. Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA: health benefits throughout life. Adv. Nutr. 3, 1–7. PMid:22332096 PMCid:PMC3262608

Telahigue K, Hajji T, Gharbi M, Cherif A, El Cafsi M. 2017. The parasitic copepod Peroderma cylindricum Heller, 1865 (Copepoda: Pennellidae) and its host Sardina pilchardus (Walbaum, 1792): trophic relationships as revealed by fatty acid profiles. J. Crustacean Biol. 37, 453–457.

Tocher JA, Dick JR, Bron JE, Shinn AP, Tocher DR. 2010. Lipid and fatty acid composition of parasitic caligid copepods belonging to the genus Lepeophtheirus. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. B. 156, 107–114. PMid:20206710

US Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2010. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 7th edition, Washington, DC: US Government printing office.

Ulbricht TL, Southgate DA. 1991. Coronary heart disease: seven dietary factors. Lancet 338, 985–92.

Van Damme PA, Ollevier F, Hamerlynck O. 1994. Pathogenicity of Lernaeocera lusci and L. branchialis in bib and whiting in the North Sea. Dis. Aquat. Organ. 19, 61–65.

Wijendran V, Hayes KC. 2004. Dietary n-6 and n-3 fatty acid balance and cardiovascular health. Annu. Rev. Nutr. 24, 597–615. PMid:15189133

Woo PTK, Buchmann K. 2012. Fish Parasites: Pathobiology and Protection. CAB International, Wallingford.



How to Cite

Telahigue K, Rabeh I, Chetoui I, Bejaoui S, El Cafsi M, Hajji T. To what extent are hake fat and its oil quality affected by the parasite Lernaeocera lusci?. grasasaceites [Internet]. 2019Jun.30 [cited 2023Jan.30];70(2):e297. Available from:




Most read articles by the same author(s)