Effects of dietary flaxseed oil supplementation on equine plasma fatty acid concentrations and whole blood platelet aggregation

J Vet Intern Med. Jul-Aug 2002;16(4):457-63. doi: 10.1892/0891-6640(2002)016<0457:eodfos>2.3.co;2.


An 18-week feeding trial was performed to investigate the effects of an omega-3 (n-3) fatty acid-enriched ration on plasma fatty acid concentrations and platelet aggregation in healthy horses. Flaxseed oil served as the source of the n-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Twelve horses were fed dietary maintenance requirements using a complete pelleted ration (80%) and timothy grass hay (20%) for a 2-week acclimation period before being randomly assigned either to a treatment (group 1) or control (group 2) group. Group 2 horses (n = 6) were fed the diet described in the acclimation period, whereas group I horses (n = 6) were fed a 10% flaxseed oil-enriched complete pellet (80%) and grass hay (20%). Biological samples and physical measurements were collected at one point during the acclimation period (week 0) and every 4 weeks thereafter (weeks 4, 8, 12, and 16). Body weight, CBC (including platelet count), plasma fibrinogen. electrolyte (Na, K, and Cl) concentrations, and biochemical profile enzyme activities (aspartate aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, gamma-glutamyltransferase, and creatine kinase) did not change markedly with diet. Platelet aggregation was not altered by the supplementation of flaxseed oil in these healthy horses, although increases in plasma cis-polyunsaturated 18-carbon fatty acids C18:3; n-3 (ALA) and C18:2; n-6 (linoleic acid), biologically active C20:5; n-3 (eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA]), and malondialdehyde (MDA) were evident. There were no marked decreases in C20:4; n-6 (arachidonic acid [AA]) or increases in C22:6; n-3 (docosahexaenoic acid [DHA]), signifying that flaxseed oil may have had a high percentage of omega-6 (n-6) fatty acids as well as n-3 fatty acids, and this relatively high n-6: n-3 fatty acid ratio may have affected the biochemical effect of n-3 fatty acids. In healthy horses supplemented with flaxseed oil, platelet aggregation was not altered, which may have been due to the limited biologic effect in healthy subjects or the inability of flaxseed oil to induce the necessary biochemical effect of replacing n-6 fatty acids with n-3 types.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkaline Phosphatase / blood
  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Arachidonic Acid / blood
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases / blood
  • Blood Cell Count / veterinary
  • Creatine Kinase / blood
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / blood
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / blood
  • Electrolytes / blood
  • Fatty Acids / blood*
  • Female
  • Fibrinogen / metabolism
  • Horses / blood*
  • Linoleic Acid / blood
  • Linseed Oil / administration & dosage*
  • Platelet Aggregation
  • Reference Values
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid / blood
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase / blood


  • Electrolytes
  • Fatty Acids
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Arachidonic Acid
  • Linseed Oil
  • Fibrinogen
  • Linoleic Acid
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases
  • Creatine Kinase
  • Alkaline Phosphatase