Objective: This work was undertaken to determine whether dietary supplementation with marine omega-3 fatty acids improve systemic large artery endothelial function in subjects with hypercholesterolemia.
Background: Marine omega-3 fatty acids improve vascular function, but the underlying mechanism(s) are unclear. We studied the effects of marine omega-3 fatty acids on large artery endothelial function in subjects with hypercholesterolemia.
Methods: Hypercholesterolemic subjects with no other known cause for endothelial dysfunction were recruited to a prospective, placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind, parallel-group study. Treatment with omega-3 fatty acids at a dose of 4 g/day (n = 15/group) was compared with placebo, at the beginning (day 0) and end (day 120) of a four-month treatment period. Endothelial function was assessed pre- and posttreatment by noninvasive ultrasonic vessel wall tracking of brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD).
Results: Treatment with marine omega-3 fatty acids resulted in a significant improvement in FMD (0.05 +/- 0.12 to 0.12 +/- 0.07 mm, p < 0.05) and a significant reduction in triglycerides (2.07 +/- 1.13 to 1.73 +/- 0.95 mmol/liter, p < 0.05), whereas treatment with placebo resulted in no change in FMD (0.03 +/- 0.10 to 0.04 +/- 0.10 mm) or triglycerides (2.29 +/- 2.09 to 2.05 +/- 1.36 mmol/liter) (both p < 0.05 treated compared with control). Responses to sublingual glyceryl trinitrate were unchanged.
Conclusions: Marine omega-3 fatty acids improve large artery endothelium-dependent dilation in subjects with hypercholesterolemia without affecting endothelium-independent dilation.